Conflicts of Desire

Journal of Value Inquiry 46 (1):51-63 (2012)
Abstract
This paper is an attempt to come to a better understanding of desire through an examination of certain kinds of conflict of desire. Standard accounts of conflict of desire involve a two-part analysis. First, desires are held to conflict just in case the satisfaction of one precludes the satisfaction of the other; second, a desire is said to be satisfied just in case the propositional content of the desire is true. I argue that this account of conflict rests in an inadequate notion of desire satisfaction, and suggest a revision of our understanding of desire satisfaction to yield a better account of conflict of desire. This account of satisfaction requires that we recognize as a fundamental feature of desire, alongside the desire’s strength and content, the desire’s role. For some conflicts of desire are best understood as conflicts of role, not conflicts of content.
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