I present a paradox concerning a person who desires to fail to achieve the goal that matters most to them. I recently encountered a similar paradox, but radical solipsism is a solution to it. This is not a solution to the paradox that I present.
Most elpistologists now agree that hope for a specific outcome involves more than just desire plus the presupposition that the outcome is possible. This paper argues that the additional element of hope is a disposition to focus on the desired outcome in a certain way. I first survey the debate about the nature of hope in the recent literature, offer objections to some important competing accounts, and describe and defend the view that hope involves a kind of focus or attention. (...) I then suggest that this account makes sense of the intuitive thought that there are moral and pragmatic norms on hope that go beyond the norms on desires and modal presuppositions. I conclude by considering some key questions. (shrink)
Faith is a trusting commitment to someone or something. Faith helps us meet our goals, keeps our relationships secure, and enables us to retain our commitments over time. Faith is thus a central part of a flourishing life. -/- This article is about the philosophy of faith. There are many philosophical questions about faith, such as: What is faith? What are its main components or features? What are the different kinds of faith? What is the relationship between faith and other (...) similar states, such as belief, trust, knowledge, desire, doubt, and hope? Can faith be epistemically rational? Practically rational? Morally permissible? -/- This article addresses these questions. It is divided into three main parts. The first is about the nature of faith. This includes different kinds of faith and various features of faith. The second discusses the way that faith relates to other states. For example, what is the difference between faith and hope? Can someone have faith that something is true even if they do not believe it is true? The third discusses three ways we might evaluate faith: epistemically, practically, and morally. While faith is not always rational or permissible, this section covers when and how it can be. The idea of faith as a virtue is also discussed. (shrink)
Les désirs sont fondamentaux. Sans eux, notre vie perdrait beaucoup de son charme et serait peut-être même dénuée de sens. Qu’est-ce qu’un désir ? À l’image des anatomistes étudiant en détail la structure des organismes, cet essai invite à disséquer minutieusement le désir. Le désir est-il le moteur de l’action ? Est-il l’expérience vécue du bien ? Les désirs font-ils le bonheur ? Que sont l’espoir et le désir sexuel ? Le désir est-il le nerf de la science ? Analysons (...) l’une des expériences les plus vertigineuses et centrales de nos vies à l’aide du scalpel conceptuel. (shrink)
Desire theories of well-being claim that how well someone’s life goes for them is entirely determined by the fulfilment and frustration of their desires. This thesis considers the viability of theories of this sort. It examines a series of objections that threaten to undermine these views. These objections claim that desire theories of well-being are incorrect because they have implausible implications. I consider four main objections over the course of this thesis. The first claims that these theories are incorrect because (...) they implausibly entail that self-sacrifice does not exist. The second claims that these theories are incorrect because they implausibly entail that severe depression does not diminish the well-being of those afflicted by this condition. The third claims that these theories are incorrect because they have implausible implications about the relative importance of fleeting desires, long-standing desires, and fluctuations in desire strength to well-being. The fourth claims that these theories are incorrect because they fail to capture the intuition that desire fulfilments which leave us disappointed and bereft of feelings of satisfaction do not improve well-being. In each of these cases, I find that desire theories of well-being have sufficient resources to refute these objections. The primary finding of this thesis is that many of the arguments against desire theories of well-being are unsuccessful. A secondary set of findings concern observations about the structure of human psychology. (shrink)
Alex Gregory (2017a; 2017b; 2018; 2021) provides an ingenious, systematic defence of the view that desires are a species of belief about normative reasons. This view explains how desires make actions rationally intelligible. Its main rival, which is attractive for the same reason, says that desires involve a quasi-perceptual appearance of value. Gregory (2017a; 2018; 2021) has argued that his view provides the superior explanation of how desires are sensitive to evidence. Here, I show that the quasi-perceptual view fairs better (...) in this regard. Negatively, I argue that Gregory’s view overestimates the evidence-sensitivity of desires and implies that we are systematically mistaken in having different attitudes about desires and beliefs. Positively, I argue that quasi-perceptual appearances of value are brought into the scope of rational control through their dependence on prior representational states. I also provide a novel explanation of why some kinds of desires are resistant to rational control. I propose that desires are produced through exercises of an affective capacity to discriminate value. Variations in the way this capacity is exercised, and its links to prior representational states, can produce systematic insensitivity to evidence in certain kinds of desires. This paper advances the debate around desire on two fronts: first, it performs the neglected task of showing how the quasi-perceptual view can simultaneously explain both the sensitivity and insensitivity to evidence exhibited by desires and, second, it shows how the explanation offered is superior to one of its closest rivals, the view that desires are a species of normative belief. (shrink)
Deflationists about truth generally regard the contribution that ‘true’ makes to utterances to be purely logical or expressive: it exists to facilitate communication, and remedy our expressive deficiencies that are due to ignorance or finitude. This paper presents a challenge to that view by considering alethic desires. Alethic desires are desires for one’s beliefs to be true. Such desires, I argue, do not admit of any deflationarily acceptable analysis, and so challenge the deflationist’s austere view about the semantic role of (...) ‘true’. I consider a number of deflationist proposals for analyzing alethic desires, and find them all problematic. (shrink)
The analysis of desire ascriptions has been a central topic of research for philosophers of language and mind. This work has mostly focused on providing a theory of want reports, that is, sentences of the form ‘S wants p’. In this paper, we turn from want reports to a closely related but relatively understudied construction, namely hope reports, that is, sentences of the form ‘S hopes p’. We present two contrasts involving hope reports and show that existing approaches to desire (...) fail to explain these contrasts. We then develop a novel account that combines some of the central insights in the literature. We argue that our theory provides an elegant account of our contrasts and yields a promising analysis of hoping. (shrink)
Ronald de Sousa has vindicated the importance of emotions in our lives. This transpires clearly through his emphasis on “emotional truth”. Like true beliefs, emotions can reflect the evaluative landscape and be true to ourselves. This article develops his insights on emotional truth by exploring the analogous phenomenon regarding desire: “desiderative truth”. According to the dominant view championed by de Sousa, goodness is the formal object of desire: a desire is fitting when its content is good. Desiderative truth is evaluative. (...) I propose an alternative, deontic approach: a desire is accurate when its content ought to be. I contrast these two accounts by examining one type of flawed desire that has eluded philosophers’ attention: caprice. Capricious desires – as the desires expressed in children’s tantrums – are fascinating yet unfitting. What is wrong with them? I argue that evaluative truth fails to explain their inadequacy. Surprisingly, capricious desires can be about good states; in fact, this is often where the culprit lies: the object of desire is too good to be worth desiring. By contrast, the deontic account nicely captures what goes wrong with capricious desires. Although they can be good, the states desired are not such that they ought to be for one to be happy. Capricious people are too demanding and misunderstand the boundaries of happiness. As the flaw in caprice is deontic, desiderative truth is deontic truth. (shrink)
What are the truth conditions of want ascriptions? According to an influential approach, they are intimately connected to the agent’s beliefs: ⌜S wants p⌝ is true iff, within S’s belief set, S prefers the p worlds to the not-p worlds. This approach faces a well-known problem, however: it makes the wrong predictions for what we call (counter)factual want ascriptions, wherein the agent either believes p or believes not-p—for example, ‘I want it to rain tomorrow and that is exactly what is (...) going to happen’ or ‘I want this weekend to last forever, but of course it will end in a few hours’. We solve this problem. The truth conditions for want ascriptions are, we propose, connected to the agent’s conditional beliefs. We substantiate this connection by pursuing a striking parallel between (counter)factual and non-(counter)factual want ascriptions on the one hand and counterfactual and indicative conditionals on the other. (shrink)
This paper develops and defends a novel version of a relatively neglected category of theory of the nature of happiness: the desire-satisfaction theory. My account is similar in its fundamentals to Wayne Davis’s theory of happiness-as-subjective-desire-satisfaction. After arguing that this is the best general way to proceed for the desire-based approach, I develop an improved version of subjective desire satisfactionism in light of recent arguments in the happiness literature.
Shelly Kagan notices in a recent, influential paper how philosophers of well-being tend to neglect ill-being—the part of the theory of well-being that tells us what is bad in itself for subjects—and explains why we need to give it more attention. This paper does its part by addressing the question, If desire satisfaction is good, what is the corresponding bad? The two most discussed ill-being options for theories on which desire satisfaction is a basic good are the Frustration View and (...) the Aversion View. I aim to show that the Frustration View is more plausible than Kagan and others think; to introduce and evaluate two additional desire-oriented theories of ill-being worth considering, the Pluralist View and the Deflationary View; and to present a new line of argument for the Aversion View. (shrink)
This thesis motivates a novel account of desire as the best explanation of an intuitive datum. The intuitive datum is that often when an agent desires P she will immediately, outright know that she has a reason to bring P about. Existing explanations of the intuitive datum cannot simultaneously satisfy two desiderata. We want to explain how desires enable outright knowledge of reasons and also explain the fallibility of desires. Existing views satisfy the first desideratum at the expense of the (...) second, or vice versa. I propose an epistemological disjunctivist account of desire that satisfies both. On this view, a desire for P represents the value of P in a manner analogous to perception. Desires come in two distinct epistemic kinds: an awareness of value or an illusion of value. An awareness of value enables outright knowledge of reasons and allows the agent to tell by reflection that she has such knowledge. An illusion of value merely seems to provide grounds for knowledge, which explains the fallibility of desires. The proposed account is a strong candidate for the truth because it best explains central features of our practical agency. (shrink)
Hume argued that passions, unlike judgments of the understanding, cannot be reasonable or unreasonable. Crucial for his argument was the premise that passions cannot be correct or incorrect. As he put it: “[a] passion is an original existence … and contains not any representative quality” and “passions are not susceptible of any … agreement or disagreement either to the real relations of ideas, or to real existence and matter of fact … being original facts and realities, compleat in themselves.” In (...) this paper I will argue that desires, like beliefs, can be correct or incorrect. Specifically, I will argue that goodness is the correctness condition for desire, in the same way that truth is the correctness condition for belief. (shrink)
Decision theory and folk psychology both purport to represent the same phenomena: our belief-like and desire- and preference-like states. They also purport to do the same work with these representations: explain and predict our actions. But they do so with different sets of concepts. There's much at stake in whether one of these two sets of concepts can be accounted for with the other. Without such an account, we'd have two competing representations and systems of prediction and explanation, a dubious (...) dualism. Folk psychology structures our daily lives and has proven fruitful in the study of mind and ethics, while decision theory is pervasive in various disciplines, including the quantitative social sciences, especially economics, and philosophy. My interest is in accounting for folk psychology with decision theory -- in particular, for believe and wanting, which decision theory omits. Many have attempted this task for belief. (The Lockean Thesis says that there is such an account.) I take up the parallel task for wanting, which has received far less attention. I propose necessary and sufficient conditions, stated in terms of decision theory, for when you're truly said to want; I give an analogue of the Lockean Thesis for wanting. My account is an alternative to orthodox accounts that link wanting to preference (e.g. Stalnaker (1984), Lewis (1986)), which I argue are false. I argue further that want ascriptions are context-sensitive. My account explains this context-sensitivity, makes sense of conflicting desires, and accommodates phenomena that motivate traditional theses on which 'want' has multiple senses (e.g. all-things-considered vs. pro tanto). (shrink)
Desire satisfaction has not received detailed philosophical examination. Yet intuitive judgments about the satisfaction of desires have been used as data points guiding theories of desire, desire content, and the semantics of ‘desire’. This paper examines desire satisfaction and the standard propositional view of desire. Firstly, I argue that there are several distinct concepts of satisfaction. Secondly, I argue that separating them defuses a difficulty for the standard view in accommodating desires that Derek Parfit described as ‘implicitly conditional on their (...) own persistence’, a problem posed by Shieva Kleinschmidt, Kris McDaniel, and Ben Bradley. The solution undercuts a key motivation for rejecting the standard view in favour of more radical accounts proposed in the literature. (shrink)
I argue that Nietzsche’s criticism of the Kantian theory of disinterested pleasure in beauty reflects his own commitment to claims that closely resemble certain Kantian aesthetic principles, specifically as reinterpreted by Schiller. I show that Schiller takes the experience of beauty to be disinterested both (1) insofar as it involves impassioned ‘play’ rather than desire-driven ‘work’, and (2) insofar as it involves rational-sensuous (‘aesthetic’) play rather than mere physical play. In figures like Nietzsche, Schiller’s generic notion of play—which is itself (...) influenced by Kant’s claim that aesthetic pleasure is orthogonal to desire-satisfaction—becomes decoupled from his (further) Kantian view that aesthetic play essentially involves a harmony of sensuous receptivity and rational spontaneity. The result, I suggest, is a self-standing opposition between desires and passions. This motivates a recognizably Romantic vision of aesthetic disinterestedness, as freedom from desire realized in a state of creative determination by passion. (shrink)
According to the orthodox treatment of risk preferences in decision theory, they are to be explained in terms of the agent's desires about concrete outcomes. The orthodoxy has been criticised both for conflating two types of attitudes and for committing agents to attitudes that do not seem rationally required. To avoid these problems, it has been suggested that an agent's attitudes to risk should be captured by a risk function that is independent of her utility and probability functions. The main (...) problem with that approach is that it suggests that attitudes to risk are wholly distinct from people's (non-instrumental) desires. To overcome this problem, we develop a framework where an agent's utility function is defined over chance propositions (i.e., propositions describing objective probability distributions) as well as ordinary (non-chance) ones, and argue that one should explain different risk attitudes in terms of different forms of the utility function over such propositions. (shrink)
Here I call attention to a class of desires that I call exclusionary desires. To have an exclusionary desire is to desire something under a description such that, were the desire satisfied, it would be logically impossible for people other than the desiring subject to possess the desired object. Assuming that we are morally responsible for our desires insofar as and because they reflect our evaluative judgments and are in principle subject to rational revision, I argue that we should, morally (...) speaking, alter both social structures and our individual psychologies to minimize, or at least substantially reduce, exclusionary desires. (shrink)
Several theorists have defended that unpleasantness can be explained by appealing to (intrinsic, simultaneous, de re) desires for certain experiences not to be occurring. In a nutshell, experiences are unpleasant because we do not want them, and not vice versa. A common criticism for this approach takes the form of a Euthyphro dilemma. Even if there is a solution for this criticism, I argue that this type of approach is limited in two important ways. It cannot provide an explanation for: (...) i) the motivation, from a psychological conscious point of view, nor ii) a non-instrumental justification, for having the relevant desires. The lack of these explanations is relevant since these are precisely the type clarifications that we would expect from a theory about unpleasantness. (shrink)
How are we to understand the intentionality of desire? According to the two classical views, desire is either a positive evaluation or a disposition to act. This essay examines these conceptions of desire and argues for a deontic alternative, namely the view that desiring is representing a state of affairs as what ought to be. Three lines of criticism of the classical pictures of desire are provided. The first concerns desire’s direction of fit, i.e. the intuition that the world should (...) conform to our desires. The second concerns the “death of desire” principle, i.e. the intuition that one cannot desire what one represents as actual. The last pertains to desire’s role in psychological explanations, i.e. the intuition that desires can explain motivations and be explained by evaluations. Following these criticisms, three positive arguments in favor of the deontic conception are sketched. (shrink)
Les désirs sont centraux pour agir et être heureux. Qu’est-ce qu’un désir ? En quoi les désirs sont-ils importants ? Dans cette entrée, nous tenterons de mettre les mots sur cette expérience si familière et pourtant négligée par la philosophie contemporaine. (1) En guise de préliminaires, nous délimiterons notre objet d’étude à la lumière des principales distinctions entre les désirs et d’autres états mentaux tels que les croyances et intentions, ainsi qu’à l’aide des distinctions classiques parmi les désirs. (2) Notre (...) exploration débutera par l’exposé de diverses facettes du désir : (i) les désirs s’accompagnent de l’apparence du bien; (ii) les désirs nous poussent à agir ; (iii) le monde doit se conformer à nos désirs (la direction d’ajustement monde-esprit); et (iv) les désirs portent sur ce que nous ne pensons pas être réel (le principe de la mort du désir). (3) Dans la troisième partie, nous présenterons les principales conceptions du désir en philosophie contemporaine, particulièrement les deux approches classiques: désirer est faire l’expérience du bien (théorie évaluative) et désirer est être motivé à agir (théorie motivationnelle). Nous esquisserons aussi des théories alternatives: l’approche déontique et neuroscientifique. Après avoir tenté de délimiter le désir, nous examinerons son importance. (4) Nous questionnerons trois types de désir qui occupent une place privilégiée dans nos vies: l’espoir, la curiosité et le désir sexuel. (5) Nous explorerons les bienfaits du désir à travers les théories désidératives du bonheur, des raisons d’agir et de la personnalité. (6) Nous conclurons en discutant les vicissitudes épistémiques du désir ou leur pouvoir de nous faire baigner dans l’illusion (l’auto-duperie). (shrink)
Desires matter. What are desires? Many believe that desire is a motivational state: desiring is being disposed to act. This conception aligns with the functionalist approach to desire and the standard account of desire's role in explaining action. According to a second influential approach, however, desire is first and foremost an evaluation: desiring is representing something as good. After all, we seem to desire things under the guise of the good. Which understanding of desire is more accurate? Is the guise (...) of the good even right to assume? Should we adopt an alternative picture that emphasizes desire's deontic nature? What do neuroscientific studies suggest? -/- Essays in the first section of the volume are devoted to these questions, and to the puzzle of desire's essence. In the second part of the volume, essays investigate some implications that the various conceptions of desire have on a number of fundamental issues. For example, why are inconsistent desires problematic? What is desire's role in practical deliberation? How do we know what we want? -/- This volume will contribute to the emergence of a fruitful debate on a neglected, albeit crucial, dimension of the mind. (shrink)
The ability to attribute beliefs and desires is taken by many to be an essential component of human social cognition, enabling us to predict, explain and shape behaviour and other mental states. In this paper, I argue that there are certain basic responses to attributed attitudes which have thus far been overlooked in the study of social cognition, although they underlie many of the moves we make in our social interactions. The claim is that belief and desire attributions allow for (...) the possibility to agree or disagree and to approve or disapprove, respectively. These evaluative responses may seem obvious but they are of considerable theoretical interest because they can’t be reduced to other roles of belief and desire attribution and are always an open possibility for attributers. What’s more, the responses of agreement/disagreement and approval/disapproval are indispensable for such attributions to be intelligible to us in the first place. (shrink)
The problem of satisfaction conditions arises from the apparent difficulties of explaining the nature of the mental states involved in our emotional responses to tragic fictions. Greg Currie has recently proposed to solve the problem by arguing for the recognition of a class of imaginative counterparts of desires - what he and others call i-desires. In this paper I will articulate and rebut Currie's argument in favour of i-desires and I will put forward a new solution in terms of genuine (...) desires. To this aim I will show that the same sort of puzzling phenomenon involved in our responses to tragic fictions arises also in a non-fictional case, and I will offer a solution to the problem of satisfaction conditions that dispenses with i-desires. The key to the explanation is in the notion of condition-dependent desires triggered by fictions. (shrink)
Richard Moran’s theory of first-person authority as the agential authority to make up one’s own mind rests on a form of mind-body dualism that does not allow for habituation as part of normal psychological functioning. We have good intuitive and empirical reason to accept that habituation is central to the normal functioning of desire. There is some empirical support for the idea that habituation plays a parallel role in belief. In particular, at least one form of implicit bias seems better (...) understood as a case of habituated belief than as a mere association or an example of what Tamar Gendler calls ‘alief’. If there is to be genuine first-person epistemic authority over persisting mental states, therefore, an alternative account to Moran’s is required in the case of desire and perhaps in the case of belief. More generally, the neglect of habituation in recent philosophy of mind is a symptom of the need for philosophers to take the temporal structure of rational agency more seriously. (shrink)
I argue that the concept of direction of fit is best seen as picking out a certain inferential property of a psychological attitude. The property in question is one that believing shares with assuming and fantasizing and fails to share with desire. Unfortunately, the standard analysis of DOF obscures this fact because it conflates two very different properties of an attitude: that in virtue of which it displays a certain DOF, and that in virtue of which it displays certain revision (...) conditions. I claim that the latter corresponds with the aim of an attitude, not its DOF. In order to remedy this failure of the standard analysis, I offer an alternative account of DOF, which I refer to as the two-content analysis. (shrink)
Delia Graff Fara maintains that many desire ascriptions underspecify the content of the relevant agent’s desire. She argues that this is inconsistent with certain initially plausible claims about desiring, desires, and desire ascriptions. This paper defends those initially plausible claims. Part of the defense hinges on metaphysical claims about the relations among desiring, desires, and contents.
Ce bref commentaire a trois objectifs. La première section vise à présenter au lecteur la philosophie matérialiste et atomiste de Hobbes. Dans la seconde section, nous exposons le rôle des désirs dans l’escalade du conflit entre les agents dans l’état de nature. Au terme de cette analyse, le lecteur disposera de quelques clés interprétatives pour aborder les chapitres VI et XIII du Léviathan.
Quels désirs sont dignes de la raison ? Comment satisfaire nos désirs sans perdre le contrôle de soi ? Ce recueil offre un éclairage sur les différents aspects de ces problèmes. Nous proposons au lecteur un parcours historique, allant de Platon à Hume, sur la question du désir et sa place dans les textes fondateurs de la philosophie.
Karttunen observes that a presupposition triggered inside an attitude ascription, can be filtered out by a seemingly inaccessible antecedent under the scope of a preceding belief ascription. This poses a major challenge for presupposition theory and the semantics of attitude ascriptions. I solve the problem by enriching the semantics of attitude ascriptions with some independently argued assumptions on the structure and interpretation of mental states. In particular, I propose a DRT-based representation of mental states with a global belief-layer and a (...) variety of labeled attitude compartments embedded within it. Hence, desires and other non-doxastic attitudes are asymmetrically dependent on beliefs. I integrate these mental state representations into a general semantic account of attitude ascriptions which relies on the parasitic nature of non-doxastic attitudes to solve Karttunen’s puzzle. (shrink)
Desires matter. How are we to understand the intentionality of desire? According to the two classical views, desire is either a positive evaluation or a disposition to act: to desire a state is to positively evaluate it or to be disposed to act to realize it. This Ph.D. Dissertation examines these conceptions of desire and proposes a deontic alternative inspired by Meinong. On this view, desiring is representing a state of affairs as what ought to be or, if one prefers, (...) as what should be. Desire involves a deontic manner of representing: a norm of the ought-to-be type features in desire’s intentional mode, as opposed to content. The dissertation is structured in three parts. In order to defend this conception, I formulate three main desiderata for a promising theory of the intentionality of desire in the introduction (§0). The first concerns desire’s direction of fit, i.e. the intuition that the world should conform to our desires. The second concerns the death of desire principle, i.e. the intuition that one cannot desire what one represents as actual. The last pertains to desire’s role in psychological explanations, i.e. the intuition that desires can explain some mental states and be explained by other mental states. The first part examines the main conceptions of desire in light of these desiderata. I argue that the classical pictures of desire do not adequately meet our desiderata. The first chapter is devoted to the evaluative conception (§1), while the second examines the motivational approach (§2). Following these criticisms, I then present the deontic view of desire (§3). In the second part, I defend this conception with the help of three arguments. The main idea is that appealing to norms of the ought-to-be type can satisfy our chief desiderata: the world should conform to norms (world-to-mind direction of fit, §4), norms are grounded on values and in turn ground obligations (explanation, §5), and norms are about non-actual states of affairs (death of desire principle, §6). In the last part, I develop the deontic view to draw a cartography of the various types of desire. Some desires are correct, while others are inappropriate. This distinction is explained by the deontic conception, as it matches that between states of affairs that ought to obtain and states that should not obtain (§7). Two study cases are examined: caprice and the impermissibility of desire aggregation. Intuitively, hopes, wishes, or urges are types of desire. The next chapter presents a typology inspired by the deontic view and the type of norms there are (§8). The last chapter discusses the main objections to the deontic approach (§9). In conclusion, I show the relevance of the deontic view for several debates in philosophy of mind and ethics. Desires are crucial because they are the ‘eye’ of what should be. (shrink)
Does the desirability of a proposition depend on whether it is true? Not according to the Invariance assumption, held by several notable philosophers. The Invariance assumption plays an important role in David Lewis’ famous arguments against the so-called Desire-as-Belief thesis (DAB), an anti-Humean thesis according to which a rational agent desires a proposition exactly to the degree that she believes the proposition to be desirable. But the assumption is of interest independently of Lewis’ arguments, for instance since both Richard Jeffrey (...) and James Joyce make the assumption (or, strictly speaking, accept a thesis that implies Invariance) in their influential books on decision theory. The main claim to be defended in this paper is that Invariance is incompatible with certain assumptions of decision theory. I show that the assumption fails on the most common interpretations of desirability and/or choice-worthiness found in decision theory. I moreover show that Invariance is inconsistent with Richard Jeffrey’s decision theory, on which Lewis’ arguments against DAB are based. Finally, I show that Invariance contradicts how we in general do and should think about conditional desirability. (shrink)
Last night I had a desire for a glass of wine. Luckily I had a bottle in the fridge and could satisfy my desire. Earlier in the day I had a desire to run on the heath and I satisfied this desire too. And today, tired of reading yet more stuff on desire, I satisfied my desire to start writing. So desires can be satisfied. Not that they are guaranteed to be satisfied – the bottle in my fridge might have (...) failed to materialize, and something might have prevented me from going for a run or getting down to writing – but that they can be satisfied. Witness C.S. Lewis: Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. (shrink)
Reprinted in Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, Wadsworth 2015, 6th edition, eds Michael Rea and Louis Pojman. What is propositional faith? At a first approximation, we might answer that it is the psychological attitude picked out by standard uses of the English locution “S has faith that p,” where p takes declarative sentences as instances, as in “He has faith that they’ll win”. Although correct, this answer is not nearly as informative as we might like. Many people say that there (...) is a more informative answer. They say that, at the very least, propositional faith requires propositional belief. More precisely, they say that faith that p requires belief that p or that it must be partly constituted by belief that p. This view is common enough; call it the Common View. I have two main aims in this paper: (i) to exhibit the falsity of the Common View and the paucity of reasons for it, and (ii) to sketch a more accurate and comprehensive account of what propositional faith is. (shrink)
Can findings from psychology and cognitive neuroscience about the neural mechanisms involved in decision-making can tell us anything useful about the commonly-understood mental phenomenon of making voluntary choices? Two philosophical objections are considered. First, that the neural data is subpersonal, and so cannot enter into illuminating explanations of personal level phenomena like voluntary action. Secondly, that mental properties are multiply realized in the brain in such a way as to make them insusceptible to neuroscientific study. The paper argues that both (...) objections would be weakened by the discovery of empirical generalisations connecting subpersonal properties with the personal level. It gives three case studies that furnish evidence to that effect. It argues that the existence of such interrelations are consistent with a plausible construal of the personal-subpersonal distinction. Furthermore, there is no reason to suppose that the notion subpersonal representation relied on in cognitive neuroscience illicitly imports personal-level phenomena like consciousness or normativity, or is otherwise explanatorily problematic. (shrink)
Models in decision theory and game theory assume that preferences are determinate: for any pair of possible outcomes, a and b, an agent either prefers a to b, prefers b to a, or is indifferent as between a and b. Preferences are also assumed to be stable: provided the agent is fully informed, trivial situational inﬂuences will not shift the order of her preferences. Research by behavioral economists suggests, however, that economic and hedonic preferences are to some degree indeterminate and (...) unstable, which in turn suggests that other sorts of preferences may suffer the same problem. Even fully informed agents do not always determinately prefer a to b, prefer b to a, or feel indifferent as between a and b. Seemingly trivial situational inﬂuences rearrange the order of their preferences. One could respond that decision theory and game theory are not meant to describe actual behavior, and that they instead adumbrate an ideal of rationality from which human action diverges in various ways. When the divergences are small and systematic, they help us identify the heuristics that conspire to help people approximate rationality. One such heuristic, dubbed the Wilde heuristic, is explored. However, the divergences documented by behavioral economists threaten to be too large to handle through idealization. The Rum Tum Tugger Model, in which indifference is intransitive, is spelled out as one promising way for decision and game theory to retrench. Preferences may be locally unstable and indeterminate, but when the differences between options are sufﬁciently large, they approximate stability and determinacy. (shrink)
Roughly, psychological egoism is the thesis that all of a person's intentional actions are ultimately self-interested in some sense; psychological altruism is the thesis that some of a person's intentional actions are not ultimately self-interested, since some are ultimately other-regarding in some sense. C. Daniel Batson and other social psychologists have argued that experiments provide support for a theory called the "empathy-altruism hypothesis" that entails the falsity of psychological egoism. However, several critics claim that there are egoistic explanations of the (...) data that are still not ruled out. One of the most potent criticisms of Batson comes from Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson. I argue for two main theses in this paper: (1) we can improve on Sober and Wilson’s conception of psychological egoism and altruism, and (2) this improvement shows that one of the strongest of Sober and Wilson's purportedly egoistic explanations is not tenable. A defense of these two theses goes some way toward defending Batson‘s claim that the evidence from social psychology provides sufficient reason to reject psychological egoism. (shrink)
For Mina Loy, human appetites are often comical, even uproarious. This essay considers Loy’s use of risibility–the desire to laugh–as it accompanies and extends her examinations of longings such as sexuality and hunger. Modernist philosophers like Nietzsche, Bergson, and Freud were preoccupied with laughter; Loy responds to their approaches in her writing, as do many of her contemporaries, particularly Wyndham Lewis. Here it is argued that in her poetry and her thirties novel, Insel, Loy depicts a desiring body neither whole (...) nor inviolate—a body determined by otherness and endlessness. Loy’s articulation of desire, in other words, is both in league with, and more extreme than that of French philosopher Georges Bataille, who was himself a product of a large-scale reconsiderationof human longing at the outset of the twentieth century. (shrink)
It is sometimes argued that having inconsistent desires is irrational or otherwise bad for an agent. If so, if agents seem to want a and not-a, then either their attitudes are being misdescribed – what they really want is some aspect x of a and some aspect y of not-a – or those desires are somehow 'inconsistent' and thus inappropriate. I argue first that the proper characterization of inconsistency here does not involve logical form, that is, whether the desires involved (...) have the form 'a and not-a', but rather the possibility of fulfilling all one's desires; and secondly, that the 'essential' conflicts involved in such inconsistencies are quite common and no worse for an agent than contingent conflicts. I draw implications concerning moral epistemology, moral realism and the logic of attitudes. (shrink)
Psiche sets up a close-knit comparison between the psychology of Plato's Republic and Freud's psychoanalysis. Convergences and divergences are discussed in relation both to the Platonic conception of the oneiric emergence of repressed desires that prefigures the main path of Freud's subconscious, to the analysis of the psychopathologies related to these theoretical formulations and to the two diagnostic and therapeutic approaches adopted. Another crucial theme is the Platonic eros - the examination of which is also extended to the Symposium and (...) Phaedrus - taken up explicitly by Freud in relation to the concept of libido. Finally, the author also addresses the two themes - of, inter alia, a metapsychological nature - inherent to the moral dimension. -/- Psiche istituisce un confronto ravvicinato tra la psicologia della "Repubblica" di Platone e la psicoanalisi di Freud. Convergenze e divergenze vengono discusse in relazione sia alla concezione platonica dell'emersione onirica dei desideri repressi, che prefigura la via regia per l'inconscio di Freud, sia all'analisi delle psicopatologie correlate a tali impostazioni teoriche, sia ai due approcci diagnostici e terapeutici adottati. Altro tema cruciale è l'eros platonico - la cui disamina viene estesa anche al "Simposio" e al "Fedro" - ripreso esplicitamente da Freud in relazione al concetto di libido. L'autore affronta, infine, le due tematizzazioni, di natura metapsicologica e non solo, inerenti alla dimensione morale. (shrink)