The Normativity of What We Care About
A Love-Based Theory of Practical Reasons
Reasons and obligations pervade our lives. The alarm clock gives us a reason to get up on the morning, the expectations of colleagues or clients give us a reason to do our jobs well, the misery in developing countries gives us a reason to donate money to Oxfam, a headache gives us a reason to take an aspirin. Looking for unity in variety, philosophers wonder why a consideration counts as a reason to do something. The nature and source of practical reasons have been debated intensively over the last three decades in analytical philosophy.
This book discusses the three most influential theories referred to as the desire-based, the value-based, and the rationally-based theories of practical reasons. The author argues that all three are defective because they overlook the role of what agents care about. In the end, it is our being concerned about other people, leading a meaningful life, and being healthy (among other things) that gives us reasons to do certain things rather than others. Drawing on insights from Harry Frankfurt, the author presents a love-based reason theory as a new and promising perspective in the debate on practical reasons.