Longings in Limbo: A New Defence of I-Desires

Erkenntnis 88 (8):3331-3355 (2023)
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This paper responds to two arguments that have been offered against the positing of ‘i-desires’, imaginative counterparts of desire supposedly involved in fiction, pretence, and mindreading. The Introspection Argument asks why, if there are both i-desires and desires, the distinction is so unfamiliar and hard to draw, unlike the relatively clear distinctions between perception and mental imagery, or belief and belief-like imagining. The Accountability Argument asks how it can make sense to treat merely imaginative states as revealing of someone’s psychology, the way we do with responses to fiction. I argue that carefully considering the relationship between other states and their imaginative counterparts sheds light on how we should expect i-desires to differ from desires, and suggests that we may often be in states that are _indeterminate_, in limbo between the two categories. This indeterminacy explains why the distinction is often hard to draw, and why these states can be revealing about us even without (determinately) being real desires.

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Luke Roelofs
New York University


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