Bishop Butler's Refutation of Psychological Hedonism

Philosophy 18 (70):114 - 139 (1943)
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Abstract

To the question ‘Why do you try to realize this?’ your answer may be ‘Because I desire that and I think that the realization of this would involve the realization of that.’ Or your answer may be ‘Because I desire this.’ If ‘Why?’ is interpreted as ‘Desiring what?’ the question ‘Why do you desire this?’ is improper. The word ‘desire’ is, however, frequently used in such a way as to countenance the impropriety. It is so used not only when what is pursued only as a means is said to be desired, but also when a desire for what possesses one character is said to be a desire for what possesses a a concomitant character. Strictly, perhaps, an object of desire is describable in terms only of the character immediately relevant to the desire. The expression ‘to desire what is X qua X’ is perhaps redundant; and the expression ‘to desire what is X qua Y’ is perhaps self-contradictory. But those who think, so must admit that such expressions are current among even careful speakers.

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Citations of this work

Butler’s Argument Against Psychological Hedonism.Robert M. Stewart - 1992 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):211-221.
Butler's Stone.John J. Tilley - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4): 891–909.
Humean Pleasures Reconsidered.Stephen D. Hudson - 1975 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5 (4):545 - 562.

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