Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 603–614

Changing Direction on Direction of Fit


DOI: 10.1007/s10677-012-9355-6

Cite this article as:
Gregory, A. Ethic Theory Moral Prac (2012) 15: 603. doi:10.1007/s10677-012-9355-6


In this paper, I show that we should understand the direction of fit of beliefs and desires in normative terms. After rehearsing a standard objection to Michael Smith’s analysis of direction of fit, I raise a similar problem for Lloyd Humberstone’s analysis. I go on to offer my own account, according to which the difference between beliefs and desires is determined by the normative relations such states stand in. I argue that beliefs are states which we have reason to change in light of the world, whereas desires are states that give us reason to change the world. After doing this, I show how the view avoids various objections, including two from David Sobel and David Copp. The paper ends by briefly discussing the relevance of the view to the Humean theory of motivation.


Direction of fit Belief Desire Humean theory of motivation Reasons Normativity of mind 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of ReadingReadingUK

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