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Desire Satisfaction Theory

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Boston University
CAS PH 150
Matt Cartmill

PHIL152 NOTES 1/22/14 Fundamentals of Ethics: Chapter 3: Getting what you want • Success and a good life all depends upon what you care about; there is no universal authority • Desire satisfaction theory of human welfare—tells us that your life goes well for you to the extent that you get what you want. Something is good for you if it satisfies your desires, only if it satisfies your desires and because it satisfies your desires. • Main attractions of desire satisfaction theory: o Avariety of good lives (pluralism)—different models of good lives. This makes perfect sense if we assume that our individual desires hold the key to a good life. o PersonalAuthority—some people think that lives should be based on one thing (such as religion or inner harmony) and those people are also satisfied by this theory. There is no one-size-fits-all. o Avoiding objective values—a popular approach says the good life consists of a specific handful of activities and is an example of an objective theory of human welfare, and it’s objective in the sense that what directly contributes to a good life is fixed independently of your desires and your opinions about what’s important. Desire theorists never have to combat the objections to an objective desire. o Motivation—many people think that if you are motivated to pursue something, then it must be good for you. But money and power is sometimes not good for us and these doubts can be expressed with the  First Motivation argument: 1. If X is truly good for you, then you will be motivated to get X—so long as you know about X and know how to get it 2. Many people who know about wealth and know how to get it
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