Ambivalent desires and the problem with reduction

Philosophical Studies 150 (1):37-47 (2010)
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Abstract

Ambivalence is most naturally characterized as a case of conflicting desires. In most cases, an agent’s intrinsic desires conflict contingently: there is some possible world in which both desires would be satisfied. This paper argues, though, that there are cases in which intrinsic desires necessarily conflict—i.e., the desires are not jointly satisfiable in any possible world. Desiring a challenge for its own sake is a paradigm case of such a desire. Ambivalence of this sort in an agent’s desires creates special problems for the project of reducing all facts about an agent’s desires to facts about his or her preferences over options. If this reductive project fails, there is reason to suspect that the Decision Theory cannot give us a complete theory of Humean rationality.

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Derek Baker
Lingnan University

Citations of this work

Shared Agency Without Shared Intention.Samuel Asarnow - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):665-688.
Horror and Hedonic Ambivalence.Matthew Strohl - 2012 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (2):203-212.

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References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
On Conditionals.Dorothy Edgington - 1995 - Mind 104 (414):235-329.
The Humean Theory of Motivation.Michael Smith - 1987 - Mind 96 (381):36-61.

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