By Richard Lindley (auth.)
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Additional info for Autonomy
What are the criteria of desirability, which in the end, fix what people have most reason to do? 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'.
Rationality is, at least, the faculty which enables a person to make the best use of his ability to choose, and someone who makes better use of this ability is more in control of his decisions than a person who uses it less well. So any conception of autonomy requires its own view of rationality. Indeed, one of the key disagreements between different theories of autonomy is over the proper role of reason in the determination of desire and action. The central focus of this chapter will be a conception of autonomy which I have derived from David Hume, and is most noteworthy for its distinctive theory of rationality.
If there is no reason not to stretch, then it would not be irrational to act on the urge. Here it is, perhaps, easier to see that the desire is just a feeling which, as it were, happens to one. It is neither rational or irrational to have this feeling, just as it is neither rational nor irrational to feel sick. A-desires may, like waves of nausea, just come and go. When beliefs and decisions to act are stripped away from inclinations, there is nothing left about the inclination to be irrational.