Title

Ambivalent desires and the problem with reduction

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition

Publication Date

8-1-2010

Volume

150

Issue

1

First Page

37

Last Page

47

Keywords

Ambivalence, Desires, Preferences, Practical rationality, Humeanism, Decision theory

Abstract

Ambivalence is most naturally characterized as a case of conflicting desires. In most cases, an agent’s intrinsic desires conflict contingently: there is some possible world in which both desires would be satisfied. This paper argues, though, that there are cases in which intrinsic desires necessarily conflict—i.e., the desires are not jointly satisfiable in any possible world. Desiring a challenge for its own sake is a paradigm case of such a desire. Ambivalence of this sort in an agent’s desires creates special problems for the project of reducing all facts about an agent’s desires to facts about his or her preferences over options. If this reductive project fails, there is reason to suspect that the Decision Theory cannot give us a complete theory of Humean rationality.

DOI

10.1007/s11098-009-9396-4

Print ISSN

00318116

E-ISSN

15730883

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Baker, D. C. (2010). Ambivalent desires and the problem with reduction. Philosophical Studies, 150(1), 37-47. doi: 10.1007/s11098-009-9396-4