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The Nature of Desire$
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Julien A. Deonna and Federico Lauria

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199370962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199370962.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 July 2021

Empirical Evidence against a Cognitivist Theory of Desire and Action

Empirical Evidence against a Cognitivist Theory of Desire and Action

(p.221) Chapter 8 Empirical Evidence against a Cognitivist Theory of Desire and Action
The Nature of Desire

Timothy Schroeder

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers T. M. Scanlon’s (1998) theory of action as a specific instance of cognitivist theories of action. It raises an unusual sort of objection to Scanlon’s cognitivism and its nearest philosophical neighbors: given what is known about the low-level neuroscience of action, there is no reasonable way to interpret the brain’s action-producing neural pathways consistent with this sort of theory. Interpreting the action-producing neural pathways as requiring a cognitive representation of reasons to be involved in action production meets a variety of objections, depending on just which parts of the action-producing neural pathways one interprets as these cognitions about reasons. The chapter proposes that a desire-based interpretation of the neural pathways addresses the obstacles raised to Scanlonian and related cognitivisms and suggests that a desire-based theory of action is thus preferable.

Keywords:   neuroscientific approach, cognitive theories of desire, judgment about reasons, motivation, movement production, reward system, Scanlon

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