Philosophical Studies

, Volume 148, Issue 2, pp 221–229 | Cite as

Absolute value as belief

Article

Abstract

In “Desire as Belief” and “Desire as Belief II,” David Lewis (1988, 1996) considers the anti-Humean position that beliefs about the good require corresponding desires, which is his way of understanding the idea that beliefs about the good are capable of motivating behavior. He translates this anti-Humean claim into decision theoretic terms and demonstrates that it leads to absurdity and contradiction. As Ruth Weintraub (2007) has shown, Lewis’ argument goes awry at the outset. His decision theoretic formulation of anti-Humeanism is one that no sensible anti-Humean would endorse. My aim is to demonstrate that Lewis’ infelicitous rendering of anti-Humeanism really does undermine the force of his arguments. To accomplish this, I begin by developing a more adequate decision theoretic rendering of the anti-Humean position. After showing that my formulation of anti-Humeanism constitutes a plausible interpretation of the anti-Humean thesis, I go on to demonstrate that if we adopt this more accurate rendition of anti-Humeanism, the view is no longer susceptible to arguments like the ones Lewis has devised. I thereby provide a more robust response to Lewis’ arguments than has yet been offered, and in the process I develop a formulation of anti-Humeanism that creates the possibility for future decision theoretic arguments that, unlike Lewis’, speak directly to the plausibility of anti-Humeanism.

Keywords

Anti-Humeanism David Lewis Decision theory Desire as belief 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to James Joyce and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and criticisms.

References

  1. Broome, J. (1991). Desire, belief and expectation. Mind, 100(2), 265–267. doi: 10.1093/mind/C.398.265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Byrne, A., & Hajek, A. (1997). David Hume, David Lewis, and decision theory. Mind, 106(423), 411–426. doi: 10.1093/mind/106.423.411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hajek, A., & Pettit, P. (2004). Desire beyond belief. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 82(1), 77–92. doi: 10.1080/713659805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Jeffrey, R. C. (1983). The logic of decision (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Joyce, J. (1999). The foundations of causal decision theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Lewis, D. (1988). Desire as belief. Mind, 97(387), 323–332. doi: 10.1093/mind/XCVII.387.323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lewis, D. (1996). Desire as belief II. Mind, 105(418), 303–313. doi: 10.1093/mind/105.418.303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Oddie, G. (1994). Harmony, purity, truth. Mind, 103(412), 451–472. doi: 10.1093/mind/103.412.451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Oddie, G. (2001). Hume, the BAD paradox, and value realism. Philo, 4(2), 109–122.Google Scholar
  10. Weintraub, R. (2007). Desire as belief, Lewis notwithstanding. Analysis, 67(2), 116–122. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8284.2007.00660.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations