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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-Helene Brousse & Andrew J. Lewis (1996). A Desire Without Precedence. Analysis 7:14.
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  2. Dr Robert Brown (2010). Prosaic Desires. Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry 6 (13):66-67.
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  3. Katharine Bubel (2008). Transcending the Triangle of Desire. Renascence 60 (4):295-308.
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  4. John Camacho, Belief and Desire: Direction and Fit.
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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. James Elwood Cheney (1974). The Concept of Desire. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
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  9. Y. N. Chopra (1973). Desire And Capacity. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (September):115-119.
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  10. Fabio Ciaramelli (2006). Afterwards of Desire. Studia Phaenomenologica 6:97-115.
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  11. Elif Çırakman (2014). Enduring Desire: Becoming Spirit. Hegel-Jahrbuch 2014 (1).
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  12. Elsie Ripley Clapp (1911). Ligh's The Direction of Desire. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 8 (15):407.
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  13. 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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  14. Robert Greer Cohn (1989). Desire. Philosophy Today 33 (4):318-329.
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  15. 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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  16. M. B. Crowe (1958). Ultimate Desires. Philosophical Studies 8:242-243.
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  17. W. A. Davis (2007). Review: The Three Faces of Desire. [REVIEW] Mind 116 (461):220-225.
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  18. Ronald B. De Sousa (1986). Desire and Time. In J. Marks (ed.), The Ways of Desire. Precedent.
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  19. J. Deonna & F. Lauria (eds.) (forthcoming). The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press.
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  20. Garry J. Deverell (2007). The Desire of God. Heythrop Journal 48 (3):343–370.
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  21. Mary Ann Doane (1993). Subjectivity and Desire: An (Other) Way of Looking. In Antony Easthope (ed.), Contemporary Film Theory. Longman.
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  22. 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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  23. Philip J. Donnelly (1948). Desire for God. Thought 23 (3):556-559.
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  24. J. A. Doull (1966). "G. L. Concordia", Value and Desire. [REVIEW] Dialogue 5 (1):96.
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  25. Carl Duncan (2003). The Creative and Revolutionary Nature of Desire. Philosophy Today 47 (2):205-217.
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  26. Louis Dupré (2000). Philosophy and the Natural Desire for God. International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (2):141-148.
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  27. A. C. Ewing (1934). Can We Act Against Our Strongest Desire ? The Monist 44 (1):126-143.
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  28. Ann Ferguson (1965). Some Philosophical Problems Concerning Action and Desire. Dissertation, Brown University
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  29. 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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  30. Stephen F. Finlay (2001). What Does Value Matter? The Interest-Relational Theory of the Semantics and Metaphysics of Value. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Value and reasons for action are often cited by rationalists and moral realists as providing a desire-independent foundation for normativity. Those maintaining instead that normativity is dependent upon motivation often deny that anything called "value" or "reasons" exists. According to the interest-relational theory, something has value relative to some perspective of desire just in case it satisfies those desires, and a consideration is a reason for some action just in case it indicates that something of value will be accomplished by (...)
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  31. Andy Foeller (unknown). Desires Aren't So Bad. Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 18.
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  32. Richard Francis Foley (1975). The Desire Theory and Metaethics. Dissertation, Brown University
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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. M. G. (1973). Welfare. Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):154-154.
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  37. M. G. (1973). Welfare. Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):154-154.
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  38. Bruce Goldberg (1965). Can a Desire Be a Cause? Analysis 25 (3):70 - 72.
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  39. 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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  40. Alan H. Goldman (2006). Desire Based Reasons and Reasons for Desires. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (3):469-488.
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  41. Lane Gormley (1984). Desire in Language. International Studies in Philosophy 16 (3):90-91.
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  42. Lahcen Haddad (1993). Narrative, Desire and Historicity. Dissertation, Indiana University
    The dissertation deals with the possibility of historicizing the fundamental connection between narrative and desire. Using Lacanian psychoanalysis both as a methodological tool and an object of study--along with other post-modern theories of culture--I have provided a topography of the theoretical ramifications of desire and narrative. I have then outlined a theory of historicized narrative desire which looks at both notions in terms of how they modify and inform different cultural products. ;My premise is that, as a linear form, narrative (...)
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  43. Tracey D. Hagan (1991). Drawn by Desire. Semiotics:86-94.
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  44. Philip Harold (2010). The Desire for Social Unity. Philosophy Today 54 (3):247-264.
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  45. Edwin Hartman (1996). Choosing One's Desires. The Ruffin Series in Business Ethics:134-135.
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  46. John Heil (1979). Action and Desire. Philosophical Investigations 2 (3):32-48.
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  47. Uri Henig (2001). The Logic of Desire and Deliberation. Dissertation, Bowling Green State University
    The dissertation is a conceptual investigation into the logical structure of practical reasoning. Its most fundamental notion is an intentional concept of desire, which contrasts with non-intentional conceptions in that it is identified by its object, which is that towards which the desire motivates. The claim is that an adequate account of practical reasoning, including phenomena such as being guided by a reason, acting out of duty, willing, intending, and acting on principles and values, could be given based on this (...)
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  48. Lars Hertzberg (1995). On Being Moved by Desire. Philosophical Investigations 18 (3):250-263.
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  49. Frank Hofmann, Besires and the Weakness of Will Argument.
    Can there be a state which is both a belief and a desire? More exactly, a state which is a belief that p and a desire that q, where p and q may be the same proposition or a different one? Such a state would be a ‘besire’ (following Altham 1986). So a first question is the general question whether besires are possible. Normative attitudes would be good candidates for besires. For example, if Sandra has the normative attitude that it (...)
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  50. Brad Hooker (1991). Mark Overvold's Contribution to Philosophy. Journal of Philosophical Research 16:333-344.
    The prevailing theory of self-interest (personal utility or individual welfare) holds that one’s Iife goes well to the extent that one’s desires are fulfilled. In a couple of seminal papers, Overvold raised a devastating objection to this theory---namely that the theory (added to commonsensical beliefs about the nature of action) makes self-sacrifice logically impossible. He then proposed an appealing revision of the prevailing theory, one which provided adequate logical space for self-sacrifice. And he analyzed his revised theory’s implications for the (...)
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