A Puzzle About Desire

Erkenntnis 73 (2):185-209 (2010)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
The following four assumptions plausibly describe the ideal rational agent. (1) She knows what her beliefs are. (2) She desires to believe only truths. (3) Whenever she desires that P → Q and knows that P, she desires that Q. (4) She does not both desire that P and desire that ~P, for any P. Although the assumptions are plausible, they have an implausible consequence. They imply that the ideal rational agent does not believe and desire contradictory propositions. She neither desires the world to be any different than she thinks it is, nor thinks it is any different than she desires it to be. The problem of preserving our intuitions about desire, without embracing the implausible conclusion, is what I call “the Wishful Thinking Puzzle.” In this paper, I examine how this puzzle arises, and I argue that it is surprisingly difficult to solve. Even the decision theoretic conception of desire is not immune to the puzzle. One approach, the contrastive conception of desire, does avoid the puzzle without being ad hoc, but it remains too inchoate to win our full confidence.
Keywords
ISBN(s)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
WREAPA-3
Revision history
Archival date: 2017-11-01
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Knowledge and its Limits.Williamson, Timothy
The Moral Problem.Smith, Michael
Elusive Knowledge.Lewis, David K.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2010-11-05

Total views
149 ( #26,573 of 50,142 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
12 ( #38,056 of 50,142 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.