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Desire as BeliefA Study of Desire, Motivation, and Rationality$
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Alex Gregory

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198848172

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198848172.001.0001

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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: 26 September 2021

Representing Reasons

Representing Reasons

(p.170) 9 Representing Reasons
Desire as Belief

Alex Gregory

Oxford University Press

This chapter assesses the worry that desire-as-belief raises the bar too high for desiring since it excludes many animals from having desires. In response, the chapter first sketches a general theory of how normative beliefs get their contents: a version of conceptual role semantics according to which the content of a given normative belief is determined by the inputs and outputs to that state. Then, with this theory in hand, the chapter argues that animals count as borderline cases of creatures with desires, since they are borderline cases of creatures with reasons beliefs. This conclusion has some intuitive appeal, and remaining resistance may be undercut by appeal to the distinction between desires and likings, and by appeal to the fact that “wants” is sometimes used merely to mean “needs”.

Keywords:   animals, children, representation, inferentialism, conceptual role semantics

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