Beliefs, Desires, and... 'Besires'

Philosophical Inquiry 30 (1-2):177-189 (2008)
Whether rationalism when concerned with explanations of moral motivation should stand in opposition to the relevant Humean approach is a perplexing question that is oversimplified when reduced to a rationalism vs. Humeanism clear cut opposition about the possibility of rational control over desires.This paper criticizes the significance of this simplification as well as the hypothesis of unitary psychological states constituted by beliefs and desires (referred to as 'besires') and their alleged capacity to secure rational control over desires. Besires contribute in the explanation of moral motivation only indirectly, that is, not as permanent unitary psychological states but only as relatively very short-term 'backgrounds' to subsequently detached matured desires.This interpretation further explored shows that the rational demandfor a genuine rational control over desires presupposes rather than opposing to the Humean belief desire distinctness - the latter actually securing the possibility of genuine moral incoherence as long as we intend to understand it neither as irrationality, nor as psychological deficiency
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DOI 10.5840/philinquiry2008301/228
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