Doing Without Desiring

Dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2011)
Abstract
This dissertation defends a cognitivist alternative to the Humean belief-desire theory of motivation against standard philosophical arguments. Moral judgments influence our action. For instance, someone might donate to charity because she believes she has a duty to give back to her community. According to the Humean orthodoxy, some additional state—some passion or desire—is needed to explain her action. She may want to donate the money, to give back to her community, or to fulfill her duty. Yet there must be something she wants, the Humean insists, because only desires are capable of moving us. Even moral judgment is no more than desire’s slave. This dissertation explores the possibility that cognitive states are capable of playing a directly motivational role. I argue that the standard philosophical arguments against this possibility do not survive close scrutiny. Instead of proceeding from assumptions about rationality, morality, and agency that frequently drive motivational cognitivists, my arguments are distinctive in that they are built largely out of Humean materials; these arguments show how cognitivism is compatible with many of the considerations Humeans have used to make their account seem compelling. For instance, agents who are unmoved by their moral judgments are often taken as evidence for the Humean Theory. This is odd, since agents are not uniformly moved by their desires either. Moral beliefs and desires seem as though they may be closely analogous in this respect. I also try to show that desire-based motivation might serve as a useful model for cognitive motivation by arguing that cognitivists can explain motivated action in ways that parallel desire-based explanations. While these cognitivist explanations are committed to the existence of besires, I argue that this is no problem for the view. Humean a priori proclamations that besires would be incoherent or absurd notwithstanding, the arguments of this dissertation suggest that besires are not so bizarre. Indeed, I argue that their existence would follow from plausible empirical hypotheses.
Keywords Desire  Besire  Humean  Motivation  Moral Psychology
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,357
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Joshua May (2013). Because I Believe It's the Right Thing to Do. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (4):791-808.
    Mark van Roojen (2002). Humean and Anti-Humean Internalism About Moral Judgements. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (1):26-49.
    Mark Schroeder (2007). The Humean Theory of Reasons. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. 195--219.
    Neil Sinhababu (2011). The Humean Theory of Practical Irrationality. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 6 (1):1-13.
    Christopher G. Framarin (2008). Motivation-Encompassing Attitudes. Philosophical Explorations 11 (2):121 – 130.
    Steven Arkonovich (2001). Defending Desire: Scanlon's Anti-Humeanism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (3):499-519.
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2012-04-13

    Total downloads

    16 ( #85,936 of 1,088,681 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    2 ( #42,750 of 1,088,681 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.