Desire

Edited by Neil Sinhababu (National University of Singapore)
About this topic
Summary Philosophers are interested in desire's role in motivating action, shaping deliberation, giving us reasons, constituting moral judgment, and increasing one's well-being when it is satisfied. There is much debate about which of these roles desire plays, and how it might play them.
Key works David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature is the locus classicus for defenses of desire's role in motivating action and constituting moral judgment.  Michael Smith's The Humean Theory of Motivation is the most-discussed contemporary defense of a Humean theory of motivation, while Neil Sinhababu's The Humean Theory of Motivation Reformulated and Defended provides an empirical argument for the theory. Timothy Schroeder's Three Faces of Desire is a leading contemporary discussion of the psychology and neuroscience of desire -- particularly its connections to motivation, pleasure, and reinforcement learning. In Praise of Desire by Nomy Arpaly and Timothy Schroeder discusses the nature of desire and its role in constituting moral agency. Mark Schroeder's Slaves of the Passions is the most prominent contemporary defense of a Humean account of reasons, which treats reasons as considerations promoting desire-satisfaction.
Introductions Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Desire
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  1. Acts of Desire.Henry Ian Schiller - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Act-based theories of content hold that propositions are identical to acts of predication that we perform in thought and talk. To undergo an occurrent thought with a particular content just is to perform the act of predication that individuates that content. But identifying the content of a thought with the performance of an act of predication makes it difficult to explain the intentionality of bouletic mental activity, like wanting and desiring. In this paper, I argue that this difficulty is insurmountable: (...)
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  2. What Does Emotion Teach Us About Self-Deception? Affective Neuroscience in Support of Non-Intentionalism.Federico Lauria & Delphine Preissmann - 2018 - Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 13 (2):70-94.
    Intuitively, affect plays an indispensable role in self-deception’s dynamic. Call this view “affectivism.” Investigating affectivism matters, as affectivists argue that this conception favours the non-intentionalist approach to self-deception and offers a unified account of straight and twisted self-deception. However, this line of argument has not been scrutinized in detail, and there are reasons to doubt it. Does affectivism fulfill its promises of non-intentionalism and unity? We argue that it does, as long as affect’s role in self-deception lies in affective filters—that (...)
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  3. L'erotisme.Arina Pismenny & Ronald De Sousa - 2018 - In Julien Deonna & Emma Tieffenbach (eds.), Petit Traité des Valeurs. Paris: pp. 132-139.
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  4. Desire and the Good: In Search of the Right Fit.Graham Oddie - forthcoming - In Deonna J. & Lauria F. (eds.), The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press.
    I argue for an evaluative theory of desire—specifically, that to desire something is for it to appear, in some way or other, good. If a desire is a non-doxastic appearance of value then it is no mystery how it can rationalize as well as cause action. The theory is metaphysically neutral—it is compatible with value idealism (that value reduces to desire), with value realism (that it is not so reducible), and with value nihilism (all appearances of value are illusory). Despite (...)
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  5. Desire and the Good: In Search of the Right Fit.Graham Oddie - forthcoming - In Deonna J. & Lauria F. (eds.), The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press.
    I argue for an evaluative theory of desire—specifically, that to desire something is for it to appear, in some way or other, good. If a desire is a non-doxastic appearance of value then it is no mystery how it can rationalize as well as cause action. The theory is metaphysically neutral—it is compatible with value idealism (that value reduces to desire), with value realism (that it is not so reducible), and with value nihilism (all appearances of value are illusory). Despite (...)
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  6. Concerns and the Seriousness of Emotion.John M. Monteleone - 2017 - Dialectica 71 (2):181-207.
    Some philosophers have claimed that emotions are states of mind where an object is taken seriously. Seriousness, as this paper understands it, involves both a phenomenological change in attention and non-indifference towards an object. The paper investigates how contemporary theories of emotion can explain the seriousness of emotion. After rejecting explanations based on feeling, desire, and concern, the paper argues that the seriousness of an emotion can be explained as the manifestation of a concern in an outwardly directed feeling. Given (...)
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  7. Self-Deception as Affective Coping. An Empirical Perspective on Philosophical Issues.Federico Lauria, Delphine Preissmann & Fabrice Clément - 2016 - Consciousness and Cognition 41:119-134.
    In the philosophical literature, self-deception is mainly approached through the analysis of paradoxes. Yet, it is agreed that self-deception is motivated by protection from distress. In this paper, we argue, with the help of findings from cognitive neuroscience and psychology, that self-deception is a type of affective coping. First, we criticize the main solutions to the paradoxes of self-deception. We then present a new approach to self-deception. Self-deception, we argue, involves three appraisals of the distressing evidence: (a) appraisal of the (...)
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  8. What Desires Are, and Are Not.Alan H. Goldman - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (2):333-352.
    This paper criticizes the account of desire defended by Nomy Arpaly and Timothy Schroeder in their recent book, In Praise of Desire. It contrasts their account with one that I favor, a cluster analysis listing various criteria that are together sufficient for having paradigm desires, but none of which is necessary or sufficient for desiring. I argue that their account fails to state necessary or sufficient conditions, that it is explanatorily weaker than the cluster account, that it fails to provide (...)
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  9. The Object of Desire.Mark Plaits - 1985 - Critica 17 (50):3-28.
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  10. Philosophy and the Natural Desire for God: An Historical Reflection.Louis Dupré - 2000 - International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (2):141-148.
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  11. The Desire for Social Unity: Levinas and Berdyaev.Philip Harold - 2010 - Philosophy Today 54 (3):247-264.
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  12. Value and Desires.Graham Oddie - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory. Oxford University Press USA.
    Are things good because we desire them or do we desire them because they are good? Theories that countenance only desire-dependent values are idealist, those that countenance desire-independent values are realist. A value can be either subject-relative or subject-neutral. Subjectivism countenances only subject-relative and desire-dependent values. Subject-neutral idealism countenances at least some subject-neutral values. Realism repudiates the dependence of value on actual desires, but endorses an important relation between value and the fittingness of desires. Normative realism takes normative facts about (...)
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  13. Aristotle on Desire and Action.Burkhard Reis & Dorothea Frede - 2009 - In Burkhard Reis & Dorothea Frede (eds.), Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy. Walter de Gruyter.
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  14. Desire in Madame Bovary.Per Bjørnar Grande - 2016 - Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 23:75-97.
    In Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque, René Girard attempts to explain how desire has been depicted in different European novels. According to Girard, the lesser novelists have retracted to some kind of romantic worldview in their description of human relationships. While the “romantic writer” does not see that desires are mediated by other people’s desires, and instead describes desire as object-related, linear, and devoid of any ongoing mimetic contagion, a number of novelists, are, nonetheless, able to reveal the illusion of (...)
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  15. Desire and Mortality.Sampsa A. Saarinen - 2016 - Nietzscheforschung 23 (1).
    Name der Zeitschrift: Nietzscheforschung Jahrgang: 23 Heft: 1 Seiten: 79-90.
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  16. Self and Desire as Seeds of Virtue.Paul Condon, John Dunne, Christine Wilson-Mendenhall, Wendy Hasenkamp, Karen Quigley & Lisa Barrett - unknown
    According to Buddhist philosophies, recognizing the self as impermanent, changing, and interdependent is at the root of virtue. With this realization, desires shift away from inward self-cherishing and toward outward self-transcending. This altruistic outlook underlies virtuous action and flourishing. Our primary research question asks: 1) to what extent do people experience self-transcending and self-cherishing desires in everyday life, and 2) to what extent do these different desires predict behaviors and body physiology that underlie virtue and well-being. As highlighted by the (...)
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  17. Desires We Live By.Miguel de Beistegui - unknown
    Miguel de Beistegui on the changing role of desire.
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  18. Desire “to Have” and Desire “to Be”.Robert Pralat - 2010 - Dialogue and Universalism 20 (5-6):101-117.
    In this essay, I attempt to consider a difficult issue: the triangular relationship between the subject, the object and the visual representations of masculinity in the context of male homosexual desire. I outline contemporary circumstances of society’s interaction with popular culture in which gay men form two images of an idealized masculine body: a concept of their own body and a concept of the body they feel sexually attracted to. My concern is to theorize these two kinds of desire and (...)
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  19. The Natural History of Desire.David Spurrett - 2015 - South African Journal of Philosophy 34 (3):304-313.
    Sterelny (2003) develops an idealised natural history of folk-psychological kinds. He argues that belief-like states are natural elaborations of simpler control systems, called detection systems, which map directly from environmental cue to response. Belief-like states exhibit robust tracking (sensitivity to multiple environmental states), and response breadth (occasioning a wider range of behaviours). The development of robust tracking and response-breadth depend partly on properties of the informational environment. In a transparent environment the functional relevance of states of the world is directly (...)
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  20. Wanting Nothing: Imitation and Production in the Economy of Desire.John Daniels - 2009 - New Blackfriars 90 (1025):90-107.
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  21. Life's Desire.J. S. King - 1932 - New Blackfriars 13 (153):788-788.
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  22. VIII—Belief, Desire, and the Praxis of Reasoning.S. G. Williams - 1989 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 90 (1):119-142.
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  23. XIV—Reason and Desire.Michael Smith - 1988 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 88 (1):243-258.
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  24. On Desire, Aversion, and the Affective Zero.Francis W. Irwin - 1961 - Psychological Review 68 (5):293-300.
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  25. 1. Introduction: Desire and the Shaping of an Author.William A. Mathews - 2005 - In Lonergan's Quest: A Study of Desire in the Authoring of Insight. University of Toronto Press. pp. 1-12.
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  26. Appendix 2: ‘Desire’.Daniel Goldstick - 2009 - In Reason, Truth and Reality. University of Toronto Press. pp. 327-332.
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  27. In Praise of Desire, by Nomy Arpaly and Timothy Schroeder.G. F. Schueler - 2016 - Mind 125 (497):241-244.
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  28. Not All Desires Are Created Equal: Exploring a Dual -Motivation Account of Consumer Desire.Alexandra V. Rodriguez - unknown
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  29. Wanting to Want.A. C. W. Bethel - 1980 - Philosophy Research Archives 6:118-125.
    Professor Harry Frankfurt has made a distinction between what he calls first-order desires, such as a desire for a Porsche, and second-order desires, such as a desire to desire a Porsche. He claims that this analysis of the structure of the will can provide an account of free human action. I argue against Frankfurt as follows: First, his account does not really free our wills, but only binds our wills at successively higher levels of desire; second, there is no good (...)
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  30. Deformed Desires and Informed Desire Tests.Anita Superson - 2005 - Hypatia 20 (4):109-126.
    The formal theory of rational choice as grounded in desire-satisfaction cannot account for the problem of such deformed desires as women's slavish desires. Traditional "informed desire" tests impose conditions of rationality, such as full information and absence of psychoses, but do not exclude deformed desires. I offer a Kantian-inspired addendum to these tests, according to which the very features of deformed desires render them irrational to adopt for an agent who appreciates her equal worth.
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  31. Deformed Desires and Informed Desire Tests.Anita Superson - 2005 - Hypatia 20 (4):109-126.
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  32. The Benefits of Rule Following: A New Account of the Evolution of Desires.Armin Schulz - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):595-603.
    A key component of much current research in behavioral ecology, cognitive science, and economics is a model of the mind at least partly based on beliefs and desires. However, despite this prevalence, there are still many open questions concerning both the structure and the applicability of this model. This is especially so when it comes to its ‘desire’ part: in particular, it is not yet entirely clear when and why we should expect organisms to be desire-based—understood so as to imply (...)
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  33. The Practices of the Self.Sharon Bowman (ed.) - 2010 - University of Chicago Press.
    What is the nature of the fundamental relation we have to ourselves that makes each of us a self? To answer this question, Charles Larmore develops a systematic theory of the self, challenging the widespread view that the self’s defining relation to itself is to have an immediate knowledge of its own thoughts. On the contrary, Larmore maintains, our essential relation to ourselves is practical, as is clear when we consider the nature of belief and desire. For to believe or (...)
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  34. The Enigma of Desire: Sex, Longing, and Belonging in Psychoanalysis.Galit Atlas - 2015 - Routledge.
    The Enigma of Desire: Sex, Longing and Belonging in Psychoanalysis, introduces new perspectives on desire and longing, in and outside of the analytic relationship._ _This exciting volume explores the known and unknown, ghosts and demons, sexuality and lust. Galit Atlas discusses the subjects of sex and desire and explores what she terms the Enigmatic and the Pragmatic aspects of sexuality, longing, female desire, sexual inhibition, pregnancy, parenthood and creativity. The author focuses on the levels of communication that take place in (...)
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  35. Painless Civilization: A Philosophical Critique of Desire.Masahiro Morioka - 2003 - Trasview.
    Morioka's most controversial book to date. The endless tendency to eliminate pain and suffering makes us totally lose sight of the meaning of life that is indispensable to human beings. How are we to battle against this painless civilization?
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  36. Desire After Affect.Nicholas Grindell (ed.) - 2014 - Rowman & Littlefield International.
    Desire After Affect offers a detailed analysis of the affective turn and its consequences for the humanities.
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  37. Das Interesse der Vernunft und die Frage nach dem guten Leben.Jörg Disse - 2013 - In Matthias Hoesch Markus Rüth & Sebastian Muders (eds.), Glück – Werte – Sinn. Metaethische, ethische und theologische Zugänge zur Frage nach dem guten Leben. de Gruyter. pp. 243-262.
    In kritischer Anlehnung an die empirischen Kognitionspsychologie von K.E. Stanovich erweist sich das menschliche Verlangen wesentlich von drei übergeordenten Interessen geprägt: ein Interesse der Gene an der Replikation ihrer selbst, ein Interesse des Individuums am eigenen Glück, und ein Interesse der Vernunft, das auf die universale Verwirklichung des Guten um seiner selbst willen gerichtet ist. Je nachdem, von welchem Interesse sich der Mensch in seinem Leben leiten lässt, verleiht es seinem Verständnis vom guten Leben eine grundsätzlich andere Richtung. Was gutes (...)
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  38. The Extinction of Desire: A Tale of Enlightenment.Michael Boylan - 2007 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    What would you do if you suddenly became rich? Michael O’Meara had never asked himself this question. A high school history teacher in Maryland, Michael is content- until, after a freak accident, he unexpectedly finds himself the beneficiary of a million dollars that disrupt his life and leave him questioning everything he had and everything he thought he wanted. _The Extinction of Desire_ blends Buddhist philosophy and fiction to maps the course of one man’s voyage to uncover the fundamental truths (...)
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  39. The Extinction of Desire: A Tale of Enlightenment.Michael Boylan - 2010 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    What would you do if you suddenly became rich? Michael O’Meara had never asked himself this question. A high school history teacher in Maryland, Michael is content- until, after a freak accident, he unexpectedly finds himself the beneficiary of a million dollars that disrupt his life and leave him questioning everything he had and everything he thought he wanted. _The Extinction of Desire_ blends Buddhist philosophy and fiction to maps the course of one man’s voyage to uncover the fundamental truths (...)
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  40. The Extinction of Desire: A Tale of Enlightenment.Michael Boylan - 2009 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    What would you do if you suddenly became rich? Michael O’Meara had never asked himself this question. A high school history teacher in Maryland, Michael is content- until, after a freak accident, he unexpectedly finds himself the beneficiary of a million dollars that disrupt his life and leave him questioning everything he had and everything he thought he wanted. _The Extinction of Desire_ blends Buddhist philosophy and fiction to maps the course of one man’s voyage to uncover the fundamental truths (...)
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  41. The Logics of Desire and Belief.John N. Williams - unknown
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  42. Chapter 2. DESIRE.Stuart Hampshire - 2015 - In Freedom of the Individual. Princeton University Press. pp. 34-52.
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  43. Brandt's Search for Rational Desires.James F. Sennett - unknown
  44. Shåumatsu E No Yokan Yokubåo, Kigåo, Rekishi.Yåujiråo Nakamura & Kåoji Taki - 1988
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  45. Yokudåo.Keizaburåo Maruyama - 1989
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  46. Wish and Will: An Intr. To the Psychology of Desire and Volition.George Lyon Turner - 1880
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  47. Desire's Sway the Plays and Stories of Heinrich von Kleist.James M. Mcglathery - 1983
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  48. The Insistence of Desire.J. D. Mininger - 2009 - Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 2009 (1):167-184.
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  49. Desires Aren't So Bad.Andy Foeller - unknown - Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 18.
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  50. A Hegelian Critique of Desire-Based Reasons.Kate Padgett Walsh - 2013 - Idealistic Studies 43 (3):171-184.
    This paper approaches Humean accounts of desire from a perspective relatively unexplored in contemporary moral theory, namely Hegel’s ethical thought. I contend that Hegel’s treatment of desire is, ultimately, somewhat more Humean than Hegel himself recognized. But Hegel also goes further than contemporary Humeans in recognizing the sociality of the normative domain, and this difference has important implications for the Humean thesis of desire-based reasons. I develop a Hegelian critique of DBR and conclude by outlining a distinctively Hegelian approach to (...)
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