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Reason and Desire: The Case of Affective Desires
European Journal of Analytic Philosophy (2010)
  • Attila Tanyi, University of Liverpool

The paper begins with an objection to the Desire-Based Reasons Model. The argument from reason-based desires holds that since desires are based on reasons (first premise), which they transmit but to which they cannot add (second premise), they cannot themselves provide reasons for action. In the paper I investigate an attack that has recently been launched against the first premise of this argument by Ruth Chang. Chang invokes a counterexample: affective desires. The aim of the paper is to see if there is a way to accommodate the counterexample to the first premise. I investigate three strategies. I first deal with the idea that the motivation for the premise may be the thesis that an action is intentional if and only if it is done under the guise of perceived reasons. This offers us a way of defending the premise: by showing that actions prompted by affective desires are not intentional. I, however, argue that this strategy is unworkable. This brings me to the second strategy. Here I consider the idea that the premise does not require a conscious normative thought on the part of the agent; in fact, it may not require any such thought, conscious or unconscious. I claim that this strategy too is a failure. Finally, the third approach builds normative judgment in the desire. This is the approach that I think works; in particular, recent work by Jennifer Hawkins may help us accommodate affective desires. The challenge of affective desires, I conclude, can be tackled.

  • Ruth Chang,
  • affective desires,
  • reasons for action,
  • intentionality,
  • responsiveness to reasons,
  • Jennifer Hawkins
Publication Date
Citation Information
Attila Tanyi. "Reason and Desire: The Case of Affective Desires" European Journal of Analytic Philosophy Vol. 6 Iss. 2 (2010)
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