, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 597-599
Date: 04 Mar 2011

Alan H. Goldman, Reasons from Within Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-957690-6

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Alan Goldman’s Reasons from Within is concerned with the question of internalism about reasons, both practical and theoretical. Goldman asks whether the reasons which we have are to be analysed in terms of mind-independent objective values, or rather in terms of our responses, desires, and so on. He argues for the latter, primarily on grounds of metaphysical and epistemological parsimony, and his arguments are a pleasure to read. I will offer a brief summary of the structure of the book, before offering some comments.

The first chapter outlines the position on offer. In keeping with the standard Humean picture, Goldman holds that reasons for action depend on desires. However, Goldman departs from contemporary Humeanism in the analysis of reasons, holding that they are states of affairs rather than complexes of desires and beliefs. What makes these states of affairs reasons is coherent and informed sets of desires, so not all desires give rise to reasons. On this point in particular (but