Desires without Guises: Why We Need Not Value What We Want

In Julien Deonna & Federico Lauria (eds.), The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Evaluativism about desire, the view that desires just are, or necessarily involve, positive evaluations of their objects, currently enjoys widespread popularity in many philosophical circles. This chapter argues that evaluativism, in both of its doxastic and perceptual versions, overstates and mischaracterises the connection between desires and evaluations. Whereas doxastic evaluativism implausibly rules out cases where someone has a desire, despite evaluating its object negatively, being uncertain about its value, or having no doxastic attitude whatsoever towards its evaluative status at all, perceptual evaluativism cannot even properly apply to the large class of standing desires. It is also argued that evaluativism about desire is not even well-motivated in the first place: the theory is supposed to solve a particular puzzle about the role desires play in the explanation of action, yet, in fact, it does not offer any help whatsoever in dealing with the relevant puzzle.
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