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Title: The Challenge of Temptation: Desire, Emotion, and Stability.
Keywords: Desire;Rational Choice;Hyperbolic Discounting;Temptation;Stability
Description: Desires are usually presented as simple states whose contribution to action, choice, and deliberation are understood simply in terms of motivational strength and object. The challenge of temptation is to give an account of desires that explains why temptations should not be treated on a par with other desires in rational deliberation. Desires qua simple states fail this challenge as ex hypothesi what it is to be tempted to do some thing is for doing that thing to be your strongest motivation. I examine the nature of desire through the lens of temptation, and create a more complex picture of desires identifying and defending various properties of desires. These properties are: an account of how desires may be more or less stable with respect to reflection and new information; the emotional component of desires (desire responses), in variously forming and undermining our reflectively stable desires (considered preferences); how it is that we are psychologically disposed to value goods over time (hyperbolically), and the way in which it is rational to value goods over time (exponentially); finally an account of the difference between warranted and unwarranted changes in the strength of desires. Temptation is a consequence of a pervasive natural tendency to discount the future hyperbolically. If you discount the future hyperbolically, then the proximity of the good causes the comparative strength of your desire responses to reverse. Desire responses are produced by a perception-like system within the agent, the conative system. This reversal occurs because proximity constitutes abnormal operating conditions for the conative system, thus producing unreliable desire responses. As the visual system produces misleading visual perceptions under abnormal conditions, the conative system can produce misleading desire responses under abnormal conditions—temptations. We can identify and compensate for these misleading desire responses by paying attention to the relative stability of our desires. Thus desires are not simple states which contribute to deliberation solely in terms of object and strength, but rather more complex states that contribute to deliberation in terms of their stability and emotional components, as well as their object and motivational strength.
Appears in Collections:Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)

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