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55 Analysis 107 (1995)


Let's suppose that I form an intention to, say, go bowling. Does the fact that I have an intention to go give me a reason to go beyond the reasons which I had for forming the intention in the first place? J. David Velleman is one person who thinks so. In addition, Velleman has recently presented a theory of practical reasoning under which practical reasoning is a species of theoretical reasoning. Under the theory, intentions are certain special sets of beliefs. It appears that unless Velleman denies Hume's claim that beliefs, unlike desires, give us no reason to act, he is attempting to embrace a contradiction: how could it be that intentions give reasons for action, beliefs do not give reason for action, and yet intentions are sets of beliefs? Velleman has attempted to avoid this difficulty by arguing that the beliefs which, in certain circumstances, make up our intentions are not themselves reason-giving, but rather interact with our desires in such a way as to give us reason to act.

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