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Desire

Edited by Neil Sinhababu (National University of Singapore)
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Summary Philosophers are interested in desire's role in motivating action, shaping deliberation, giving us reasons, constituting moral judgment, and increasing one's well-being when it is satisfied. There is much debate about which of these roles desire plays, and how it might play them.
Key works David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature is the locus classicus for defenses of desire's role in motivating action and constituting moral judgment.  Michael Smith's The Humean Theory of Motivation is the most-discussed contemporary defense of a Humean theory of motivation, while Neil Sinhababu's The Humean Theory of Motivation Reformulated and Defended provides an empirical argument for the theory. Timothy Schroeder's Three Faces of Desire is a leading contemporary discussion of the psychology and neuroscience of desire -- particularly its connections to motivation, pleasure, and reinforcement learning. In Praise of Desire by Nomy Arpaly and Timothy Schroeder discusses the nature of desire and its role in constituting moral agency. Mark Schroeder's Slaves of the Passions is the most prominent contemporary defense of a Humean account of reasons, which treats reasons as considerations promoting desire-satisfaction.
Introductions Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Desire
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  1. Marie-Luise Angerer & Patricia T. Clough (2015). Desire After Affect. Rowman & Littlefield International.
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  2. Nomy Arpaly & Timothy Schroeder (2014). Précis of In Praise of Desire. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2):490-495.
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  3. Annette Baier (1986). The Ambiguous Limits of Desire. In J. Marks (ed.), The Ways of Desire. Precedent. 39--61.
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  4. Alexander Bain, W. R. Sorley, J. S. Mann, E. P. Scrymgour & Shadworth H. Hodgson (1887). Symposium: The Distinction Between Will and Desire. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1 (1):54 - 69.
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  5. Aleksander R. Bańka (2009). Klasyczna definicja prawdy w epistemologicznych poglądach Désiré Merciera. Roczniki Filozoficzne 57 (2):5-23.
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  6. Gerald W. Barnes (1977). Some Remarks on Belief and Desire. Philosophical Review 86 (July):340-349.
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  7. E. J. Bond (1979). Desire, Action, and the Good. American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1):53 - 59.
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  8. K. Bonner (1990). Motivation and the Desire to Learn. Dianoia 1 (1):18-35.
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  9. R. S. Bourne (1912). Ligh's The Desire for Qualities. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 9 (19):530.
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  10. M. S. Brady (2007). Review: Value, Reality, and Desire. [REVIEW] Mind 116 (461):193-197.
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  11. David Braun (2015). Desiring, Desires, and Desire Ascriptions. Philosophical Studies 172 (1):141-162.
    Delia Graff Fara maintains that many desire ascriptions underspecify the content of the relevant agent’s desire. She argues that this is inconsistent with certain initially plausible claims about desiring, desires, and desire ascriptions. This paper defends those initially plausible claims. Part of the defense hinges on metaphysical claims about the relations among desiring, desires, and contents.
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  12. John Broome (1991). Desire, Belief and Expectation. Mind 100 (2):265-267.
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  13. Marie-Helene Brousse & Andrew J. Lewis (1996). A Desire Without Precedence. Analysis 7:14.
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  14. Dr Robert Brown (2010). Prosaic Desires. Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry 6 (13):66-67.
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  15. Katharine Bubel (2008). Transcending the Triangle of Desire. Renascence 60 (4):295-308.
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  16. K. Cassidy & M. Kelly (1992). Belief and Desire in the Development of Theory of Mind. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 30 (6):467-467.
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  17. Ruth Chang (2004). Can Desires Provide Reasons for Action? In R. Jay Wallace (ed.), Reason and Value: Themes From the Moral Philosophy of Joseph Raz. Oxford University Press. 56--90.
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  18. David Charles (2009). Aristotle on Desire and Action. In Dorothea Frede & Burkhard Reis (eds.), Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy. Walter de Gruyter. 291--308.
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  19. Y. N. Chopra (1973). Desire And Capacity. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (September):115-119.
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  20. Fabio Ciaramelli (2006). Afterwards of Desire. Studia Phaenomenologica 6:97-115.
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  21. Elif Çırakman (2014). Enduring Desire: Becoming Spirit. Hegel-Jahrbuch 2014 (1).
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  22. Elsie Ripley Clapp (1911). Ligh's The Direction of Desire. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 8 (15):407.
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  23. Randolph Clarke (1994). Doing What One Wants Less: A Reappraisal of the Law of Desire. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 75 (1):1-11.
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  24. Robert Greer Cohn (1989). Desire. Philosophy Today 33 (4):318-329.
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  25. Sara Crangle (2010). Desires Dissolvent. Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry 6 (13):41-53.
    For Mina Loy, human appetites are often comical, even uproarious. This essay considers Loy’s use of risibility–the desire to laugh–as it accompanies and extends her examinations of longings such as sexuality and hunger. Modernist philosophers like Nietzsche, Bergson, and Freud were preoccupied with laughter; Loy responds to their approaches in her writing, as do many of her contemporaries, particularly Wyndham Lewis. Here it is argued that in her poetry and her thirties novel, Insel, Loy depicts a desiring body neither whole (...)
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  26. M. B. Crowe (1958). Ultimate Desires. Philosophical Studies 8:242-243.
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  27. W. A. Davis (2007). Review: The Three Faces of Desire. [REVIEW] Mind 116 (461):220-225.
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  28. Ronald B. De Sousa (1986). Desire and Time. In J. Marks (ed.), The Ways of Desire. Precedent.
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  29. Garry J. Deverell (2007). The Desire of God. Heythrop Journal 48 (3):343–370.
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  30. Mary Ann Doane (1993). Subjectivity and Desire: An (Other) Way of Looking. In Antony Easthope (ed.), Contemporary Film Theory. Longman.
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  31. Mary Ann Doane (1990). [Book Review] the Desire to Desire, the Woman's Film of the 1940s. [REVIEW] Feminist Studies 16:151-169.
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  32. Philip J. Donnelly (1948). Desire for God. Thought 23 (3):556-559.
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  33. Carl Duncan (2003). The Creative and Revolutionary Nature of Desire. Philosophy Today 47 (2):205-217.
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  34. Louis Dupré (2000). Philosophy and the Natural Desire for God. International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (2):141-148.
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  35. A. C. Ewing (1934). Can We Act Against Our Strongest Desire ? The Monist 44 (1):126-143.
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  36. Stephen Finlay (2008). Motivation to the Means. In David Chan (ed.), Moral Psychology Today: Values, Rational Choice, and the Will. 173-191.
    Rationalists including Nagel and Korsgaard argue that motivation to the means to our desired ends cannot be explained by appeal to the desire for the end. They claim that a satisfactory explanation of this motivational connection must appeal to a faculty of practical reason motivated in response to desire-independent norms of reason. This paper builds on ideas in the work of Hume and Donald Davidson to demonstrate how the desire for the end is sufficient for explaining motivation to the means. (...)
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  37. Christopher G. Framarin (2008). Motivation-Encompassing Attitudes. Philosophical Explorations 11 (2):121 – 130.
    Alfred R. Mele defends a broadly 'Humean' theory of motivation. One common dispute between Humeans and anti-Humeans has to do with whether or not a desire is required to motivate action. For the most part Mele avoids this dispute. He claims that there are reasons to think that beliefs cannot motivate action, but finally allows that it might be that it is a contingent fact that beliefs can motivate action in human beings. Instead Mele argues for the claim that certain (...)
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  38. Christopher G. Framarin (2008). Motivation in the Nyāyasūtra and Brahmasiddhi. Religious Studies 44 (1):43-61.
    One common interpretation of the orthodox Indian prohibition on desire is that it is a prohibition on phenomenologically salient desires. The Nyāyasūtra and Brahmasiddhi seem to support this view. I argue that this interpretation is mistaken. The Vedāntins draw a distinction between counting some fact as a reason for acting (icchā) and counting one's desire (rāga) as a reason for acting, and prohibit the latter. The Naiyāyikas draw a distinction between desiring to avoid some state of affairs (dveṣa) and believing (...)
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  39. Daniel Friedrich (2012). The Alluringness of Desire. Philosophical Explorations 15 (3):291 - 302.
    A central aspect of desire is the alluringness with which the desired object appears to the desirer. But what explains the alluringness of desire? According to the standard view, desire presents its objects with a certain allure because desire involves believing that the desired object is good. However, this cannot explain how those who lack the cognitive sophistication required for evaluative concepts can nonetheless have desires, how nihilists can continue to have desires, nor how we can desire things we believe (...)
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  40. M. G. (1973). Welfare. Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):154-154.
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  41. M. G. (1973). Welfare. Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):154-154.
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  42. Bruce Goldberg (1965). Can a Desire Be a Cause? Analysis 25 (3):70 - 72.
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  43. Alan Goldman (2009). Desires and Reasons. American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (4):291 - 304.
    In an article on whether desires generate practical reasons, Ruth Chang points out that philosophers have gravitated to extreme positions in their answers to this question. Internalists argue that all reasons derive from desires, while externalists argue that none, or virtually none, do. She, by contrast, holds that some reasons derive from desires and some from objective values. According to her, single desires in themselves can provide reasons for actions based simply on the desires' affective nature. But in her view (...)
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  44. Alan H. Goldman (2006). Desire Based Reasons and Reasons for Desires. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (3):469-488.
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  45. Lane Gormley (1984). Desire in Language. International Studies in Philosophy 16 (3):90-91.
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  46. Tracey D. Hagan (1991). Drawn by Desire. Semiotics:86-94.
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  47. Philip Harold (2010). The Desire for Social Unity. Philosophy Today 54 (3):247-264.
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  48. Edwin Hartman (1996). Choosing One's Desires. The Ruffin Series in Business Ethics:134-135.
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  49. John Heil (1979). Action and Desire. Philosophical Investigations 2 (3):32-48.
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  50. Lars Hertzberg (1995). On Being Moved by Desire. Philosophical Investigations 18 (3):250-263.
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