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Abstract: I want to discuss a certain argument for the claim that de?nite descriptions are ambiguous between a Russellian quanti?cational interpretation and a predicational interpretation.1 The argument is found in James McCawley
Abstract: It is not at all obvious how best to draw the distinction between conditional and unconditional desires. In this paper we examine extant attempts to analyse conditional desire. From the failures of those attempts, we draw a moral that leads us to the correct account of conditional desires. We then extend the account of conditional desires to an account of all desires. It emerges that desires do not have the structure that they have been thought to have. We attempt to explain the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic desire in light of our account of desire. We show how to use our account to solve Wollheim's paradox of democracy and to save modus ponens. Finally, we extend the account of desire to related phenomena, such as conditional promises, intentions, and commands. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
Abstract: This paper distinguishes two conceptions of representation at work in the philosophical literature. On the first, "contentive" conception (found, for example, in Searle and Fodor), something is a representation, roughly, if it has "propositional content". On the second, "indicative" conception (found, for example, in Dretske), representations must not only have content but also have the function of indicating something about the world. Desire is representational on the first view but not on the second. This paper argues that philosophers and psychologists have sometimes conflated these two conceptions, and it examines the consequences of this conflation for the developmental literature on the child's understanding of mind. Specifically, recent research by Gopnik and Perner on the child's understanding of desire is motivated by an argument that equivocates between the two conceptions of representation. Finally, the paper suggests that an examination of when the child understands the possibility of misrepresentation in art would be helpful in charting the child's understanding of indicative representation
Abstract: What we believe depends on more than the purely intrinsic facts about us: facts about our environment or context also help determine the contents of our beliefs. 1 This observation has led several writers to hope that beliefs can be divided, as it were, into two components: a "core" that depends only on the individual?s intrinsic properties; and a periphery that depends on the individual?s context, including his or her history, environment, and linguistic community. Thus Jaegwon Kim suggests that "within each noninternal psychological state that enters into the explanation of some action or behavior we can locate an ?internal core state? which can assume the causal-explanatory role of the noninternal state."2 In the same vein, Stephen Stich writes that "nonautonomous" states, like belief, are best viewed as "conceptually complex hybrids" made up of an autonomous component together with historical and contextual features.3 John Perry, whose term I have adopted, distinguishes between belief states, which are determined by an individual?s intrinsic properties, and objects of belief, which are not.4 And Daniel Dennett makes use of the same notion when he asks:5
Abstract: Rationalizations of deliberation often make reference to two kinds of mental state, which we call belief and desire. It is worth asking whether these kinds are necessarily distinct, or whether it might be possible to construe desire as belief of a certain sort — belief, say, about what would be good. An expected value theory formalizes our notions of belief and desire, treating each as a matter of degree. In this context the thesis that desire is belief might amount to the claim that the degree to which an agent desires any proposition A equals the degree to which the agent believes the proposition that A would be good. We shall write this latter proposition ‘A◦’ (pronounced ‘A halo’). The Desire-as-Belief Thesis states, then, that to each proposition A there corresponds another proposition A◦, where the probability of A◦ equals the expected value of A
Abstract: David Lewis [1988, 1996] canvases an anti-Humean thesis about mental states: that the rational agent desires something to the extent that he or she believes it to be good. Lewis offers and refutes a decision-theoretic formulation of it, the ‘Desire-as-Belief Thesis’. Other authors have since added further negative results in the spirit of Lewis’. We explore ways of being anti- Humean that evade all these negative results. We begin by providing background on evidential decision theory, and on Lewis’ negative results. We then introduce what we call the indexicality loophole: if the goodness of a proposition is indexical, partly a function of an agent’s mental state, then the negative results have no purchase. Thus we propose a variant of Desire-as-Belief that exploits this loophole. We argue that a number of meta-ethical positions are committed to just such indexicality. Indeed, we show that with one central sort of evaluative belief — the belief that an option is right — the indexicality loophole can be exploited in various interesting ways. Moreover, on some accounts, ‘good’ is indexical in the same way. Thus, it seems that the anti- Humean can dodge the negative results
Abstract: David Lewis [1988; 1996] canvases an anti-Humean thesis about mental states: that the rational agent desires something to the extent that he or she believes it to be good. Lewis offers and refutes a decision-theoretic formulation of it, the `Desire-as- Belief Thesis'. Other authors have since added further negative results in the spirit of Lewis's. We explore ways of being anti-Humean that evade all these negative results. We begin by providing background on evidential decision theory and on Lewis's negative results. We then introduce what we call the indexicality loophole: if the goodness of a proposition is indexical, partly a function of an agent's mental state, then the negative results have no purchase. Thus we propose a variant of Desire-as- Belief that exploits this loophole. We argue that a number of meta-ethical positions are committed to just such indexicality. Indeed, we show that with one central sort of evaluative beliefÐthe belief that an option is rightÐthe indexicality loophole can be exploited in various interesting ways. Moreover, on some accounts, `good' is indexical in the same way. Thus, it seems that the anti-Humean can dodge the negative results
Abstract: To desire is to be in a particular state of mind. It is a state of mind familiar to everyone who has ever wanted to drink water or desired to know what has happened to an old friend, but its familiarity does not make it easy to give a theory of desire. Controversy immediately breaks out when asking whether wanting water and desiring knowledge are, at bottom, the same state of mind as others that seem somewhat similar: wishing never to have been born, preferring mangoes to peaches, craving gin, having world conquest as one's goal, having a purpose in sneaking out to the shed, or being inclined to provoke just for the sake of provocation. These varied states of mind have all been grouped together under the heading of ‘pro attitudes’, but whether the pro attitudes are fundamentally one mental state or many is disputed.
Abstract: Roughly, psychological egoism is the thesis that all of a person's intentional actions are ultimately self-interested in some sense; psychological altruism is the thesis that some of a person's intentional actions are not ultimately self-interested, since some are ultimately other-regarding in some sense. C. Daniel Batson and other social psychologists have argued that experiments provide support for a theory called the "empathy-altruism hypothesis" that entails the falsity of psychological egoism. However, several critics claim that there are egoistic explanations of the data that are still not ruled out. One of the most potent criticisms of Batson comes from Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson. I argue for two main theses in this paper: (1) we can improve on Sober and Wilson’s conception of psychological egoism and altruism, and (2) this improvement shows that one of the strongest of Sober and Wilson's purportedly egoistic explanations is not tenable. A defense of these two theses goes some way toward defending Batson‘s claim that the evidence from social psychology provides sufficient reason to reject psychological egoism.