Belief - Belief/Desire Psychology& The Humean Theory of...

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Unformatted text preview: Belief/Desire Psychology & The Humean Theory of Motivation Belief/Desire Psychology Belief/Desire psychology was for a long time the dominant approach in psychology and philosophy, and is still very important; it remains dominant in economics. The origins go back at least to Hume, and to the idea that a belief on its own will not move an agent. (In contrast Kant thought that one could be motivated to act morally just by the judgment that the action was morally right; indeed, on his account, if one has a desire to act morally, that corrupts the moral motivation.) But the claim has developed from the thought that beliefs are insufficient to move an agent, to the claim that desires are necessary to move an agent. In psychology this was given impetus by the (broadly behavioristic) drive to operationalize mental notions: desires earn their scientific keep if they are manifested in action. In economics this becomes the idea behind revealed preference theory: an agent’s preferences are revealed by their actions; a similar idea is...
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