Desire and Belief

Rüdiger Bittner

in Doing Things for Reasons

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780195143645
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833085 | DOI:
Desire and Belief

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Examines the desire‐belief‐theory, as presented, for example, in the work of Donald Davidson, which holds that a reason for which somebody does something is a combination of a desire and a belief of the agent. Widely accepted, this theory is seldom defended, the most explicit argument being due to Michael Smith. However, not only is his argument found wanting on a number of counts but the desire‐belief‐theory also gives desire and belief incompatible roles to fulfill. Desire is asked both to set a goal and to provide the impulse for pursuing it, and, correspondingly, belief is held to give the agent guidance both in the sense of informing and in the sense of directing him or her.

Keywords: action; belief; Davidson; desire; goal; guidance; reason for action; Michael Smith

Chapter.  9971 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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