Appearances of the Good

An Essay on the Nature of Practical Reason

Appearances of the Good
  • By Sergio Tenenbaum

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

    Online Publication Date:August 2009

    Online ISBN:9780511498855

    Hardback ISBN:9780521837835

    Paperback ISBN:9780521119818

  • Book DOI:

    Subjects: Logic

'We desire all and only those things we conceive to be good; we avoid what we conceive to be bad.' This slogan was once the standard view of the relationship between desire or motivation and rational evaluation. Many critics have rejected this scholastic formula as either trivial or wrong. It appears to be trivial if we just define the good as 'what we want', and wrong if we consider apparent conflicts between what we seem to want and what we seem to think is good. In Appearances of the Good, Sergio Tenenbaum argues that the old slogan is both significant and right, even in cases of apparent conflict between our desires and our evaluative judgements. Maintaining that the good is the formal end of practical inquiry in much the same way as truth is the formal end of theoretical inquiry, he provides a fully unified account of motivation and evaluation.


'A must-read for those with a serious interest either in the nature of desire or the nature of practical reasoning."
-Mark Schroeder, Social Theory & Practice

"This work will prompt a series of responses and arguments from separatists and help to kindle debates about desire and practical reason."
-Peter Brian Barry, Saginaw Valley State University, Ethics

[An] important book...The discussion is characterized throughout by an impressive clarity, a sharp sense of distinctions and subtleties that are easy to neglect, and an expert invocation of historical figures...This is a book it would be difficult to read without profit."
-Kieran Setiya, University of Pittsburgh, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

The main ambition of Sergio Tenenbaum’s new book, Appearances of the Good, is to restore to plausibility what Tenenbaum calls the “scholastic” view of desire...In Tenenbaum’s hands, the scholastic view of desire is shown to be a pivotal element in a sweeping picture of how thought makes itself practical. Tenenbaum succeeds not only in restoring this conception to view but also in showing that it deserves more careful consideration than it ordinarily receives."
-Talbot Brewer, University of Virginia, Philosophical Review