, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 51-63

Conflicts of Desire

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Desire, as a philosophical topic, has received a great deal of attention from recent writers engaged in moral psychology, but their discussions have been narrow in focus. In the main they have limited themselves to trying to clarify the relation between the desires of an agent and the scope and nature of her reasons. The reasons are usually considered to be moral in nature. This focus is hardly surprising, given the interest in trying to ground the normativity of morality in the wants of an agent or in showing that the normativity of morality cannot be so grounded. But it does put philosophical interest in desire at some distance from what most often commands our interest in desires outside of philosophy: their satisfaction and frustration, and the conflicts that can arise between them. This is not to suggest that a philosopher takes a professional interest in the more practical aspects of desire, such as satisfying his own desires or frustrating the desires of his enemy. It does, howe