Monday, July 18, 2011

Desires

There are times when we have two incompatible desires and we act on the one that felt weaker to us. In those cases, there is a temptation to say: "It must have actually been stronger, since it won out." But to say that goes against the introspective evidence which is that it was, in fact, weaker. Moreover, some of these cases will be cases where one is praiseworthy or blameworthy for acting. So, if we take seriously the introspective evidence, we conclude that sometimes one is praiseworthy or blameworthy for acting on a weaker desire. Those who think freedom is compatible with actions not being determined by one's character and circumstances (that will include all libertarians and some compatibilists) can accept this at face value.

1 comment:

Kenny said...

There's an argument like this in Reid, EAP 4.4. Against the view that the strongest motive always prevails, Reid argues that if 'the strongest motive' is defined as the one that prevails, then the thesis is trivial, and doesn't cause any problems for libertarianism. But if 'the strongest motive' is defined in any other way (e.g. as the motive that feels strongest), then the thesis is empirically false.