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Eden Lin (Ohio): “Future Desires, the Agony Argument, and Subjectivism about Reasons”

31 May, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Abstract: According to subjectivism about normative reasons for action, there is a reason for you to perform an action if and only if (and because) your performing it would promote the satisfaction of one of your desires. Presentist versions of subjectivism, on which present reasons are grounded in present desires, are threatened by Parfit’s Agony Argument: they imply that there might be no reason for me to perform an action that would prevent me from undergoing an episode of agony in the future — even if I would strongly desire not to be in agony if I were in agony. It might seem — and it has been suggested by David Sobel — that subjectivists can evade this argument by allowing future desires to generate present reasons. In this paper, I argue that they cannot do this without accepting an otherwise implausible view about which future desires ground present reasons. Even if subjectivists allow future desires to ground present reasons, they must either bite the bullet on the Agony Argument or bite a different bullet elsewhere.

Eden Lin is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Ohio State University.




31 May
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
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