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Causal explanations

Causal explanations - where there is an inappropriate...

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Causal explanations There is a long-standing debate about whether motivating reasons are causes. Many philosophers used to deny that they were. Donald Davidson pointed out that even if we have a desire for something, and a belief that a certain action will bring that thing about, we don’t get an explanation of the corresponding action unless we think that the belief and desire caused that action (and caused it, moreover, in the right way). Phenomenology of Desire Smith argues that it is not a necessary feature of desires that they have a certain phenomenology (i.e. a certain feel) attached. Perhaps certain desires must (hunger for instance); but this is not generally so. And even with hunger, one can be distracted (in which case, does the phenomenology of hunger go away, or do we simply not notice it; compare wounds on the battlefield). Smith only considers certain sorts of phenomenology though. There is a worry for Smith’s approach from the fact that when the phenomenology is completely lacking (or perhaps
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Unformatted text preview: where there is an inappropriate phenomenology) we are reluctant to ascribe desires. Consider compulsion. Philip Quinn gives the example of a compulsive radio-switcher-on-er: he switches on every radio he can find, entirely without any pleasure or satisfaction. Would we say that he wanted to switch the radios on? (Similarly, Anscombe has the example of someone who says, inexplicably, ‘I want a pin’; and then, when you give it to them, says simply ‘Thank you, my wish is gratified’, and puts the pin down.) Could it be that desires have to involve pleasure in the satisfaction; or, more plausibly, pleasure in the anticipation of satisfaction? There is now a considerable psychological literature showing that wanting and liking can come apart. See for instance Kent Berridge’s work, which we shall look at in detail when we come to study addiction....
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