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Title: Desires as determinants of action
Author: Dearden, Ian Hilton
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1974
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A supposed logical connection between an unimpeded desire and action, which might be thought to preclude a causal connection, is criticised (chapter 1). The thesis that if a desire is to explain an action as a reason for that action, then the desire must match that action in a certain way is accepted, but it is argued that this is not an objection to a causal theory of action (chapter 2). It is maintained that (i) explanations of action are explanations in terms of the agent's reasons (ii) there may be reasons for acting other than desires but these motivate in a way to be likened to the way in which desires motivate (iii) a causal force must be given to the "because" implied in the statement of the reason why someone acted (chapter 3). An attempt is made to distinguish actions motivated by desire or fear from bodily reactions characteristic thereof. Certain actions for which one has no reason are considered (chapter 4). An attempt is made to analyse intentions to do something in the future in terms of desire and belief, but this seems reductive (chapter 5). However, this does not vitiate the previous analysis of action (chapter 6). The subject of mental action is broached. It is suggested that the most fruitful approach involves considering the limitations of mental action: the only clear cases uncovered involve the direction of one's attention (chapter 7). One's understanding of another's action is considered. It is maintained that an explanation in terms of his reasons has its own kind of completeness, but such a complete explanation would not be deemed adequate for all purposes. The attitudes one takes up to another because of his actions are discussed and while it is admitted that such attitudes could not simply be abandoned, there remain problems about the justification of them and actions motivated by them (chapter 8).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy