Asymmetrism about Desire Satisfactionism and Time

In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, vol. 7. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 161-183 (2017)


Desire-satisfaction theories of welfare must answer the timing question: when do you benefit from the satisfaction of one of your desires? There are three existing views about this: the Time of Desire view, on which you benefit at just those times when you have the desire; the Time of Object view, on which you benefit just when the object of your desire obtains; and Concurrentism, on which you benefit just when you have the desire and its object obtains. This paper introduces a new view, Asymmetrism, on which you sometimes benefit at the time of desire and sometimes benefit at the time of object. On this view, if the time at which you have a desire is later than the time at which its object obtains, then you benefit at the time of the desire. On the other hand, if the time of object is later than the time of desire, then you benefit at the time of object. Three arguments are given for the conclusion that Asymmetrism is superior to the Time of Desire and Time of Object views. It is argued that Asymmetrism and Concurrentism are the most credible answers to the timing question.

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Eden Lin
Ohio State University

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