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Abstract: In philosophy, the textbook case for the discussion of human motivation is the examination (and almost always, the refutation) of psychological egoism. The arguments have become part of the folklore of our tribe, from their inclusion in countless introductory texts. [...] One of my central aims has been to define the issues empirically, so we do not just settle them by definition. Although I am inclined at present to put my bets on the reward-event theory, with its internalism, monism, and causal primacy of satisfaction, I think we are very far from knowing enough to settle these questions concerning motivation, human or otherwise. The winds of science will blow where they may. In the meantime, we can be a bit more circumspect about what we put in our tribal folklore.
Abstract: The first third of John Pollock’s Thinking about Acting is on the topics of pleasure, desire, and preference, and these topics are the ones on which this paper focuses. I review Pollock’s position and argue that it has at least one substantial strength (it elegantly demonstrates that desires must be more fundamental than preferences, and embraces this conclusion wholeheartedly) and at least one substantial weakness (it holds to a form of psychological hedonism without convincingly answering the philosophical or empirical objections that might be raised)
Abstract: To desire something is a condition familiar to everyone. It is uncontroversial that desiring has something to do with motivation, something to do with pleasure, and something to do with reward. Call these "the three faces of desire." The standard philosophical theory at present holds that the motivational face of desire presents its unique essence--to desire a state of affairs is to be disposed to act so as to bring it about. A familiar but less standard account holds the hedonic face of desire to reveal to true nature of desire. In this view, to desire something is to tend to pleasure if it seems that the desired state of affairs has been achieved, or displeasure if it seems otherwise, thus tying desire to feelings instead of actions. In Three Faces of Desire, Schroeder goes beyond actions and feelings to advance a novel and controversial theory of desire that puts the focus on desire's neglected face, reward. Informed by contemporary science as much as by the philosophical tradition, Three Faces of Desire discusses recent scientific discoveries that tell us much about the way that actions and feelings are produced in the brain. In particular, recent experiments reveal that a distinctive system is responsible for promoting action, on the one hand, and causing feelings of pleasure and displeasure, on the other. This system, the brain's reward system, is the causal origin of both action and feeling, and is the key to understanding the nature of desire