Values, desires, and love: Reflections on Wollheim's moral psychology

Ratio 24 (1):78-90 (2011)
Abstract
In The Thread of Life, Richard Wollheim argues that a person's sense of value is grounded in the power of love to generate certain favourable perceptions of an object. Following from his view is a psychoanalytic conception of valuing as constituted by the imaginative force of phantasy, rather than rational deliberation. In this paper, I shall defend this conception with a view to explaining the relation between values and desires. I suggest that valuing qua phantasy-making can ‘tune up’ a person's desires to fit his perception of the good. Such power of phantasy is to be contrasted with various types of motivational failure in moral imagination. Finally, I argue that ‘effective valuing’, which makes us capable of desiring what we perceive to be good, requires an affective kind of imagination which assures us that we have the ability to love and to be loved
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