Engaging Reason: On the Theory of Value and Action
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Joseph Raz presents a penetrating exploration of the interdependence of value, reason, and the will. The essays illuminate a wide range of questions concerning fundamental aspects of human thought and action. The book is a summation of many years of original, compelling, and influential work by a major contemporary philosopher.
may be a reason for undertaking the sequence but not for a particular step in it. What is my reason when I put one foot in front of the other in the course of getting out of the room? I will not discuss these objections here.10 They seem to be based on a misguided notion of what it is to act for a reason (parallel to the denial of small values we discussed above), leading to the conclusion that one acts for a reason only when one's action is preceded by deliberation about what to do. They also
examples the agents do not disapprove of their actions. Of course, one can regret having kicked the table, as one can regret any other action one may have performed. But at the time of action the agents are not conflicted. Their actions are not akratic for they do not believe that they should not perform them. No doubt there can be purely expressive actions which are akratic as well, but that is not part of their nature. So let us confine our attention to those which are not akratic, to normal
in an attempt to satisfy the desire, but many desires remain unsatisfied because the opportunity for their satisfaction does not arise, or because when it does, one has better reasons, or one just chooses to do something else instead. One can feel frustrated in such circumstances, but this is not an inevitable concomitant of the desire, and I believe that it is in fact not at all common. For example, I want to spend a summer in Chamonix. This may be quite a strong desire if by that one means a
second conclusion is true so is the first, since it is entailed by it. The truth of the second conclusion can be established by the following chain of considerations. Belief in propositions of the first type, for example that Don Giovanni is a great opera, that hill walking can be invigorating, healthy, and refreshing, is not in itself a belief that one has any reason to do anything. It does commit those who have those beliefs to certain further evaluative beliefs and attitudes: thinking well of
the moral rules which apply to him are those which are practised in his society. This 'meta-ethical' statement is not a piece of verbal legislation. It is a thesis about what morality really is. But it is not a moral view about what moral duties people have. It is a 'meta-ethical' view, on a par with the thesis that, of the duties which a person is subject to, his duties to others are his moral duties. On this understanding, the primary import of the social relativistic thesis is not to argue