Desire Beyond Belief
Hajek (Alan) & Pettit (Philip)
Source: Jackson - Lewisian Themes: The Philosophy of David K. Lewis, Chapter 7
Paper - Abstract

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Authors’ Abstract

  1. David Lewis [19881: 19962] 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.
  2. We explore ways of being anti-Humean that evade all these negative results.
    1. We begin by providing background on evidential decision theory and on Lewis’s negative results.
    2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Moreover, on some accounts, ’good’ is indexical in the same way. Thus, it seems that the anti-Humean can dodge the negative results.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: "Lewis (David) - Desire As Belief".

Footnote 2: "Lewis (David) - Desire As Belief II".

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