The Undesirable & The Adesirable

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (1):115-130 (2017)
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The guise of the good thesis can be understood as an attempt to distinguish between human motivations that are intelligible as desires and those that are not. I propose, first, that we understand the intelligibility at stake here as the kind necessary for the experience of reactive attitudes, both negative and positive, to the behavior and motivations of an agent. Given this, I argue that the thesis must be understood as proposing substantive content restrictions on how human agents perceive objects of their desires; it cannot be a purely formal constraint. Moreover, while proponents of the guise of the good thesis who posit substantive content restrictions on human desire are right to do so, they are mistaken to claim that we always desire the apparently good. Instead, I propose a different limit: the naturally attractive. This alternative to the guise of the good thesis nonetheless captures the compelling idea that human desires are intelligent, quasi-perceptual responses to the world.

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Vida Yao
University of California, Los Angeles


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