The Abductive Case for Humeanism over Quasi-Perceptual Theories of Desire

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 8 (2):1-29 (2014)
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A number of philosophers have offered quasi-perceptual theories of desire, according to which to desire something is roughly to “see” it as having value or providing reasons. These are offered as alternatives to the more traditional Humean Theory of Motivation, which denies that desires have a representational aspect. This paper examines the various considerations offered by advocates to motivate quasi-perceptualism. It argues that Humeanism is in fact able to explain the same data that the quasi-perceptualist can explain, and in one case the Humean explanation is superior. Quasi-perceptual accounts of desire, the paper concludes, are for the most part unmotivated.

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Derek Baker
Lingnan University


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