Concurrent Awareness Desire Satisfactionism

Utilitas 35 (3):198-217 (2023)
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Desire satisfactionists are united by their belief that what makes someone well-off is the satisfaction of their desires. But this commitment obscures a number of underlying differences, since there are several theoretical choice points on the way to making this commitment precise. This article is about two of the most important choice points. The first concerns an epistemic requirement on well-being. Suppose that one's desire that P is satisfied. Must one also know (or believe, or justifiably believe) that one's desire that P is satisfied in order to benefit from P? If so, there is an epistemic requirement on well-being. The second concerns the time at which one benefits. Well-being is a temporal phenomenon: given that one benefits from the satisfaction of one's desire that P, when does one benefit? Perhaps one benefits at the times at which one desires P, or the times at which P obtains, or both. I defend a view I call “concurrent awareness desire satisfactionism”: one benefits only at times at which both one desires P and P obtains (concurrence) and one benefits only if one is aware that one's desire is satisfied (awareness). I motivate this view by showing how it gives us solutions to many of the canonical problems facing desire satisfactionism. Then I put the two parts of the view together and explore some of its further implications. Ultimately, I conclude that well-being is an organic unity composed of a desiderative component, an epistemic component, and a worldly component, none of which are valuable on their own, but which are valuable when they are related in the right way.

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Author's Profile

Paul Forrester
Yale University (PhD)

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