Might Desires Be Beliefs About Normative Reasons?

In Julien Deonna & Federico Lauria (eds.), The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press. pp. 201-217 (2017)


This paper examines the view that desires are beliefs about normative reasons for action. It describes the view, and briefly sketches three arguments for it. But the focus of the paper is defending the view from objections. The paper argues that the view is consistent with the distinction between the direction of fit of beliefs and desires, that it is consistent with the existence of appetites such as hunger, that it can account for counterexamples that aim to show that beliefs about reasons are not sufficient for desire, such as weakness of will, and that it can account for counterexamples that aim to show that beliefs about reasons are not necessary for desire, such as addiction. The paper also shows how it is superior to the view that desires are appearances of the good.

Download options


External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

677 (#12,048)

6 months
29 (#30,870)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Internal and External Reasons.Bernard Williams - 1979 - In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational Action. Cambridge University Press. pp. 101-113.
The Humean Theory of Motivation.Michael Smith - 1987 - Mind 96 (381):36-61.
How Is Weakness of the Will Possible?Donald Davidson - 1969 - In Joel Feinberg (ed.), Moral Concepts. Oxford University Press.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

Normative Reasons as Good Bases.Alex Gregory - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2291-2310.
The Guise of the Good and the Problem of Partiality.Allan Hazlett - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (6):851-872.
How Verbal Reports of Desire May Mislead.Alex Gregory - 2017 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (4):241-249.
Doxastic Desire and Attitudinal Monism.Douglas Campbell - 2018 - Synthese 195 (3):1139-1161.
Epistemic Akrasia and Belief‐Credence Dualism.Elizabeth Jackson & Peter Tan - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (3):717–727.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles