Desire, Expectation, and Invariance

Mind 125 (499):691-725 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The Desire-as-Belief thesis (DAB) states that any rational person desires a proposition exactly to the degree that she believes or expects the proposition to be good. Many people take David Lewis to have shown the thesis to be inconsistent with Bayesian decision theory. However, as we show, Lewis's argument was based on an Invariance condition that itself is inconsistent with the (standard formulation of the) version of Bayesian decision theory that he assumed in his arguments against DAB. The aim of this paper is to explore what impact the rejection of Invariance has on the DAB thesis. Without assuming Invariance, we first refute all versions of DAB that entail that there are only two levels of goodness. We next consider two theses according to which rational desires are intimately connected to expectations of (multi-levelled) goodness, and show that these are consistent with Bayesian decision theory as long as we assume that the contents of 'value propositions' are not fixed. We explain why this conclusion is independently plausible, and show how to construct such propositions.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,386

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

312 (#62,385)

6 months
34 (#99,137)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Richard Bradley
London School of Economics
H. Orri Stefansson
Stockholm University

Citations of this work

Two Ways to Want?Ethan Jerzak - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (2):65-98.
Decision Theory.Katie Steele & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2012 - In Peter Adamson (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
There Is No Such Thing as Expected Moral Choice-Worthiness.Nicolas Côté - 2023 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):1-20.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

The Logic of Decision.Richard C. Jeffrey - 1965 - New York, NY, USA: University of Chicago Press.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.

View all 48 references / Add more references