Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Second-order desire fulfillment theories of well-being

According to second-order desire fulfillment theories (2DF), A is bad for me if and only if I desire that A not occur, and my desire that A not occur is either endorsed (the stronger variant) or not disendorsed (the weaker variant). A desire is "endorsed" if and only if I have a desire to have that desire. A desire is "disendorsed" if and only if I have a desire not to have that desire.

Here is a counterexample to 2DF. Joey is not a Stoic. He fears torture as much as you and I do, and desires that he not be tortured. However, Joey desires to be a Stoic. In particular, he desires that he not have a desire not to be tortured. Suppose Joey is being tortured. He intensely desires that the torture come to an end. But he also consistently desires that he not have that desire. According to both variants of 2DF, the torture is not bad for him. But isn't that absurd?

1 comment:

Adam said...

Interesting...