Dead Sea Apples and Desire-Fulfillment Welfare Theories

Utilitas 23 (03):324-343 (2011)
This paper argues that, in light of Dead Sea apple cases, we should reject desire-fulfillment welfare theories (DF theories). Dead Sea apples are apples that look attractive while hanging on the tree, but which dissolve into smoke or ashes once plucked. Accordingly, Dead Sea apple cases are cases where an agent desires something and then gets it, only to find herself disappointed by what she has gotten. This paper covers both actual DF theories and hypothetical (or idealized) DF theories. On actual DF theories the agent’s well-being is determined by her actual desires, while on hypothetical DF theories the agent’s well-being is determined by the desires that she would have if she were fully and vividly informed with respect to non-evaluative information. Various actual and hypothetical DF theory responses to Dead Sea apple objections are considered, and all such responses are argued to be inadequate.
Keywords well-being  welfare  desire-fulfillment theories
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    Chris Heathwood (2005). The Problem of Defective Desires. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (4):487 – 504.
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