Promotion as contrastive increase in expected fit

Philosophical Studies 176 (5):1263-1290 (2019)
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What is required for an action to promote the satisfaction of a desire? We reject extant answers and propose an alternative. Our account differs from competing answers in two ways: first, it is contrastive, in that actions promote the satisfaction of desires only as contrasted with other possible actions. Second, it employs a notion of expected fit between desire and world, defined as the weighted sum of the fit between the desire and the world in all possible outcomes, where each weight is given by the probability of the agent’s obtaining the relevant outcome. According to our proposal, then, an action promotes a desire when the expected fit for the desire given that the agent performs the action is greater than the expected fit of the desire given that the agent performs the contrasting action. We highlight this account’s attractive features and explain how it improves on its competitors.

Author Profiles

Nathaniel Sharadin
University of Hong Kong
Finnur Dellsén
University of Iceland


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