A Puzzle About Desire

Erkenntnis 73 (2):185-209 (2010)
Abstract
The following four assumptions plausibly describe the ideal rational agent. (1) She knows what her beliefs are. (2) She desires to believe only truths. (3) Whenever she desires that P → Q and knows that P, she desires that Q. (4) She does not both desire that P and desire that ~P, for any P. Although the assumptions are plausible, they have an implausible consequence. They imply that the ideal rational agent does not believe and desire contradictory propositions. She neither desires the world to be any different than she thinks it is, nor thinks it is any different than she desires it to be. The problem of preserving our intuitions about desire, without embracing the implausible conclusion, is what I call “the Wishful Thinking Puzzle.” In this paper, I examine how this puzzle arises, and I argue that it is surprisingly difficult to solve. Even the decision theoretic conception of desire is not immune to the puzzle. One approach, the contrastive conception of desire, does avoid the puzzle without being ad hoc, but it remains too inchoate to win our full confidence.
Keywords rationality  desire  truth
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
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,101
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Richard Bradley (1999). Conditional Desirability. Theory and Decision 47 (1):23-55.
Roderick M. Chisholm (1966). Theory of Knowledge. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
Christopher Gauker (2005). The Belief-Desire Law. Facta Philosophica 7 (2):121-144.

View all 24 references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2010-11-05

Total downloads

52 ( #33,848 of 1,102,136 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

12 ( #19,530 of 1,102,136 )

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.