The Irreducibility of Pleasure to Desire

Swiss Philosophical Preprints (2008)

Olivier Massin
Université de Neuchâtel
One common answer to the question of the unity of pleasures is to try to define pleasantness by appealing to a kind of mental states whose unity is less questionable. Desires have been conceived as the best candidates for this unifying role. Indeed, one way of classifying the preceding options concerning the definition of pleasantness, is to constrast conative (or motivational) theories of pleasure with non conative ones. Conative theories of pleasure are often considered as one homogeneous type of pleasure reductionism1. But there are indeed two importantly distinct way of defined pleasure with the help of desire: one can define pleasures as objects of desires (D7) or as satisfactions of desires (D8). For convenience, I shall call desirabilist the theory of the first kind (D7) and satisfactionist the theories of the second kind (D8). In the following, I shall argue that both these options fail. On the assumption that D7 and D8 are the only desired-based account of pleasure, this implies that pleasure can’t be reduced to desire.
Keywords Pleasure  Desire
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