By Richard Lindley (auth.)
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Extra resources for Autonomy
The Humean view of this is that 'the ultimate ends of human action can never . . ' If there are no essentially irrational desires, perhaps this part of the Humean theory is salvageable. In contrast with the Kantian view, according to which the only ultimately desirable ends of human action are those justified by considerations of pure rationality, Hume is claiming that a person's ultimate ends; which generate her reasons for action, themselves cannot be divorced from her own personal nonrational 'affections'.
It is important to remember that the dispute is over whether or not desires can be simply irrational without being dependent on any faulty beliefs. As with many issues in moral and political philosophy the dispute over whether or not there can be essentially irrational desires is one which cannot be settled by formal proof. 122). For most people (excluding would-be suicides and those who are attracted by the thought of soaring through the air), there is no reason to leap off, and any desire to do so appears to be an irrational impulse which should be resisted.
Had he realised that a cat lived at this house, he would form the desire to leave. This does not mean that he actually has more reason to leave than to stay, or that his decision to stay is in any way irrational. There are similar problems with 'thinking clearly' and 'distorting influence'. The second, and perhaps fatal, flaw in the Deliberative Theory, for those sympathetic to a Humean view about the rational permissibility of ultimate ends, lies in its insistence that what the agent has most reason to do depends on hypothetical wants.