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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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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Desire
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  1. N. J. H. Dent & John Benson (1976). Varieties of Desire. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 50 (1):153 - 192.
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  2. Louis Dupré (2000). Philosophy and the Natural Desire for God. International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (2):141-148.
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  3. Andy Foeller (unknown). Desires Aren't So Bad. Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 18.
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  4. Richard Francis Foley (1975). The Desire Theory and Metaethics. Dissertation, Brown University
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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. M. G. (1973). Welfare. Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):154-154.
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  8. M. G. (1973). Welfare. Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):154-154.
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  9. Bruce Goldberg (1965). Can a Desire Be a Cause? Analysis 25 (3):70 - 72.
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  10. 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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  11. Alan H. Goldman (2006). Desire Based Reasons and Reasons for Desires. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (3):469-488.
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  12. Lane Gormley (1984). Desire in Language. International Studies in Philosophy 16 (3):90-91.
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  13. 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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  14. Tracey D. Hagan (1991). Drawn by Desire. Semiotics:86-94.
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  15. Philip Harold (2010). The Desire for Social Unity. Philosophy Today 54 (3):247-264.
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  16. Edwin Hartman (1996). Choosing One's Desires. The Ruffin Series in Business Ethics:134-135.
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  17. Lars Hertzberg (1995). On Being Moved by Desire. Philosophical Investigations 18 (3):250-263.
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  18. 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’. 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 would be best (...)
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  19. 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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  20. R. B. K. Howe (1994). A Social-Cognitive Theory of Desire. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 24 (1):1–23.
    An examination of our preconceptions about desire, together with a comparison of these with the available empirical evidence, leads to a theory in which desire is characterized as a cognitive phenomenon which is heavily influenced by social learning. Following an introductory outline, the second section clarifies what exactly is at issue in attempting to reduce conation to cognition. Section 3 assesses the conditions required for knowledge of our own desires, and this concern is extended in 4 to an appraisal of (...)
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  21. Paul Edward Hurley (1988). The Practical Given. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    I demonstrate that the two major ethical traditions agree that there are given desires which provide extra-rational practical reasons. Empiricist theories ground ethics in such desires, but the extra-rationality of this foundation appears to lead to stultifying subjectivism. Rationalist theories justify the appeal to an independent Kantian Reason as necessary to gain control over such desires. But the status of these desires as providing motivating reasons guarantees that such independent Reason can never be more than one among competing sources of (...)
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  22. Deonna J. & Lauria F. (eds.) (forthcoming). The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press.
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  23. Gary E. Jones (1981). Rights and Desires. Ethics 92 (1):52-56.
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  24. Leonard D. Katz (2005). Review of Timothy Schroeder, Three Faces of Desire. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (9).
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  25. Dahlian Kirby (1994). Forms of Desire. Philosophy Now 10:43-44.
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  26. Pierre Klossowski (1997). La Monnaie Vivante. Rivages.
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  27. J. Laird (1912). BLIGH, S. M. -The Desire for Qualities. [REVIEW] Mind 21:274.
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  28. Michael J. Lapierre (1969). God and the Desire of Understanding. The Thomist 33 (4):667.
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  29. Scott Lash (1985). Postmodernity and Desire. Theory and Society 14 (1):1-33.
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  30. Janet Levin (1988). Must Reasons Be Rational? Philosophy of Science 55 (2):199-217.
    This paper challenges some leading views about the conditions under which the ascription of beliefs and desires can make sense of, or provide reasons for, a creature's behavior. I argue that it is unnecessary for behavior to proceed from beliefs and desires according to the principles of logic and decision theory, or even from principles that generally get things right. I also deny that it is necessary for behavior to proceed from principles that, though perhaps subrational, are similar to those (...)
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  31. Andrew Lewis, Leonardo Rodriguez & Megan Williams (2001). What Desire Is Concerned in the Pass? Analysis 10:160.
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  32. Patricia M. Locke (1988). Desire, Dialectic and Otherness. Review of Metaphysics 41 (4):826-828.
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  33. Thomas A. Losoncy (1991). Grace, Politics and Desire. Review of Metaphysics 45 (1):137-138.
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  34. Harriet Lutzky (2003). Desire as a Constitutive Element of the Sacred1. Archive for the Psychology of Religion 25 (1):62-70.
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  35. Julija Magajna (2012). Schizoanalysis: Analysis of the (Un) Conscious Factors of Desire. Filozofski Vestnik 33 (3).
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  36. Christopher Malloy (2011). De Lubac on Nature Desire: Difficulties and Antitheses. Nova Et Vetera 9:567-624.
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  37. Guy Mansini (2002). Henri de Lubac, the Natural Desire to See God, and Pure Nature. Gregorianum 83 (1):89-109.
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  38. Peter J. Markie & Timothy Patrick (1990). De Re Desire. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 68 (4):432 – 447.
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  39. Joel Marks (2012). Desire: 30 Years Later. Philosophy Now 93:44-44.
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  40. Henry Rutgers Marshall (1892). The Definition of Desire. Mind 1 (3):400-403.
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  41. James M. Mcglathery (1983). Desire's Sway the Plays and Stories of Heinrich von Kleist.
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  42. Mixing Memory (1976). Desire,". American Philosophical Quarterly 13:213-220.
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  43. Harlan Miller, Desire.
    I want, this morning, to talk about wants, about how what we want makes us who we are, and how some ways of understanding our own wants and the wants of others shape our lives both personally and politically. There are five parts, respectively personal, political, personal, political, personal.
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  44. B. Millot (1988). Symbol, Desire and Power. Theory, Culture and Society 5 (3):675-694.
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  45. J. Mininger (2009). The Insistence of Desire. Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook:167-184.
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  46. Yåujiråo Nakamura & Kåoji Taki (1988). Shåumatsu E No Yokan Yokubåo, Kigåo, Rekishi.
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  47. N. Frederick Nash & Barbara C. Bowen (1981). An Unrecorded First Edition of Artus Desiré. Bibliothèque d'Humanisme Et Renaissance 43 (3):573-576.
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  48. Matteo Negro (2012). Perception and Desire. Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica 104 (2-3):507-516.
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  49. Shaun Nichols (2010). Timothy Schroeder, Adina L. Roskies, And. In John Doris (ed.), Moral Psychology Handbook. Oxford University Press 72.
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  50. Robert Noggle (1999). Integrity, the Self, and Desire-Based Accounts of the Good. Philosophical Studies 96 (3):301-328.
    Desire-based theories of well-being claim that a person's well-being consists of the satisfaction of her desires. Many of these theories say that well-being consists of the satisfaction of desires that she would have if her desires were "corrected" in various ways. Some versions of this theory claim that the corrections involve having "full information" or being an "ideal observer." I argue that well-being does not depend on what one would desire if she were an “ideal observer.” Rather, it depends on (...)
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