Desires, Values and Norms

In Federico Lauria & Julien Deonna (eds.), The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract
The thesis defended, the “guise of the ought”, is that the formal objects of desires are norms (oughts to be or oughts to do) rather than values (as the “guise of the good” thesis has it). It is impossible, in virtue of the nature of desire, to desire something without it being presented as something that ought to be or that one ought to do. This view is defended by pointing to a key distinction between values and norms: positive and negative norms (obligation and interdiction) are interdefinable through negation; positive and negative values aren’t. This contrast between the norms and values, it is argued, is mirrored, within the psychological realm, by the contrast between the desires and emotions. Positive and negative desires are interdefinable through negation, but positive and negative emotions aren’t. The overall, Meinongian picture suggested is that norms are to desires what values are to emotions.
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