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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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Desires, Values and Norms

Desires, Values and Norms

(p.165) Chapter 6 Desires, Values and Norms
The Nature of Desire

Olivier Massin

Oxford University Press

The thesis defended in this essay, the “guise of the ought,” is that the formal objects of desires are norms (oughts-to-be or oughts-to-do) rather than values (as the “guise of the good” thesis has it). It is impossible, in virtue of the nature of desire, to desire something without it being presented as something that ought to be or that one ought to do. This view is defended by pointing to a key distinction between values and norms: positive and negative norms (obligation and interdiction) are interdefinable through negation; positive and negative values aren’t. This contrast between norms and values, it is argued, is mirrored within the psychological realm by the contrast between desires and emotions. Positive and negative desires are interdefinable through negation, but positive and negative emotions aren’t. The overall, Meinongian picture suggested is that norms are to desires what values are to emotions.

Keywords:   desire, guise of the good, values, norms, ought, emotion, polarity, Meinong

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