Ambivalent desires and the problem with reduction
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Ambivalence, Desires, Preferences, Practical rationality, Humeanism, Decision theory
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.
Copyright © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.
Baker, D. C. (2010). Ambivalent desires and the problem with reduction. Philosophical Studies, 150(1), 37-47. doi: 10.1007/s11098-009-9396-4