Thursday, October 1, 2020

Acting on a desire

Suppose I have a desire for A, and I act on this desire to get A. There are at least three different stories about my motivations that are compatible with this:

  1. I pursued A non-instrumentally.

  2. I pursued A instrumentally in order to satisfy my desire.

  3. I pursued A instrumentally in order to rid myself of my desire.

The distinction between (2) and (3) should be somewhat familiar to many: when one struggles with temptation, the temptation whispers to one that if one gives in, the struggle will be over. (This is, of course, a deception: for if one gives in, the temptation is likely to return strengthened later.) The distinction between (1) and (2) is subtler. In case (1), the desire reveals to us something desirable and we pursue it. The pursuit satisfies our desire, but we don’t do it to satisfy the desire, but simply because the thing is desirable.

No comments: