Can there be a state which is both a belief and a desire? More exactly, a state which is a belief that p and a desire that q, where p and q may be the same proposition or a different one? Such a state would be a ‘besire’. So a first question is the general question whether besires are possible. Normative attitudes would be good candidates for besires. For example, if Sandra has the normative attitude that it would be best for her to leave the country, this seems to be a propositional state of hers which may be both a belief and a desire. Or, for another example, suppose that Michael has the normative attitude that one should not lie without good reason. Then he seems to hold a belief about lying, namely, that lying without good reason is normatively forbidden, and, at the same time, he also seems to have a desire with respect to lying, namely, the desire not to lie without good reason. A second question is whether normative attitudes are besires.1 There are other good candidates for besires. A ‘simple’ state like the state of the young chicken expressed by its cry may be a case in point. Even though the chicken’s state is probably not a full-blooded propositional state, it seems to be ‘Janus-faced’ as well. Does it descriptively represent the chicken’s hunger? Or is it a desire for food? Maybe both – and then it could be a besire, or something like that.2 Ruth Garrett Millikan mentions another candidate, namely, intentions. Intentions clearly have a desire-like nature. And arguably, they..
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