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Humean NatureHow desire explains action, thought, and feeling$
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Neil Sinhababu

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783893

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783893.001.0001

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(p.135) 8 Willpower
Humean Nature

Neil Sinhababu

Oxford University Press

Chapter 8 explains how we exercise willpower: by intentionally redirecting attention away from vividly represented temptation and towards less vividly represented goals. Redirecting attention raises the vividness of goals, amplifying our desire to attain them. Exercising willpower requires effort and is hard to sustain because it requires redirecting attention against the automatic tendency to attend to vividly represented objects of desire. This explanation is compatible with a Humean motivational calculus on which we always maximize expected satisfaction of our occurrent desires. It’s also compatible with the dual-process model popular in contemporary psychology, explaining how cognitive systems are implemented by desire, attention, and representational states.

Keywords:   Desire, Willpower, Attention, Vividness, Motivation

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