David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Noûs 32 (1):23-36 (1998)
It is often suggested that our desires vary in motivational strength or power. In a paper expressing skepticism about this idea, Irving Thalberg asked what he described, tongue in cheek, as "a disgracefully naive question" (1985, p. 88): "What do causal and any other theorists mean when they rate the strength of our PAs," that is, our "desires, aversions, preferences, schemes, and so forth"? His "guiding question" in the paper seems straightforward (p. 98): "What is it for our motivational states to have some degree of power to generate behavior?" Yet, he argued, ''as soon as we endeavor to clarify what philosophers of action and drive theorists in psychology mean by motivational strength, we run across one obscurity after another" (p. 103). This essay is an attempt to answer a more specific version of Thalberg's question.
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