« R.A. Duff |
| Thom Brooks »
Tyler Doggett (University of Vermont) & Andy Egan (University of Michigan & ANU), "Imagination, Desire, Affect and Action,” with commentary by Tamar Gendler (Yale University). The paper and commentary can be found here.
Posted by tnadelhoffer on May 21, 2006 | Permalink
Two quick comments: (i) The complaint against N&S that they cannot accommodate "losing yourself" in character makes a mistake of conflating _being driven by the belief and desire boxes_ and _being a conscious & deliberate act of cognition_. Note that, if the complaint worked against acting 'in character', it would also work against all of our ordinary actions as well -- which presumably, on this sort of boxological account, are driven by the belief and desire boxes.
(ii) I'm having a real, "Yeah? Says who?" moment with this bit of the text: "Is it a desire about Tony, the New Jersey mafia boss? Say, a desire that Tony be safe from the police? No. You have no desires about Tony. You don’t believe that Tony exists. (Perhaps it could be a desire about Tony the fictional character, not Tony the real live New Jersey mafia boss? No. That would be a desire about the content of the fiction – desires about fictional characters are desires about what they’re like according to the fiction. And you don’t have that desire.)" It sure _seems_ to me that we have desires about characters all the time that do not translate into desires-that-in-the-fiction. Aaron Meskin & I have argued in our paper _Imagine That!_ that people (e.g.) desire that Mercutio live, but do not desire that _Romeo & Juliet_ be written any other way, and that this (in part) explains the affective tensions we feel with such fictions. And people have these desires even while recognizing that the two desires cannot be satisfied together. The resulting desire set is no more incoherent than my desire that I eat pizza tonight for dinner, and my desire that I keep to my spring diet: I know that they cannot both be satisfied, but that (alas!) does not cause it to be the case that I fail to have both desires.
So the question I ask, then: how do you suggest we referee claims such as yours & ours? (Note that we agree that people don't _believe_ that Tony Soprano exists; the question is whether that rules out having Tony-directed desires.)
Jonathan Weinberg |
May 22, 2006 at 08:46 PM
The commentary by Tamar Gendler can now be found here:
May 25, 2006 at 11:17 AM
Thanks a lot for the comments, Jonathan, and sorry for taking so long to respond.
About comment (i): the "losing yourself" objection to Nichols and Stich is supposed to go like this: if the N&S account of behavior motivated by the imagination is correct, then when you are motivated by what you are imagining, you have to consult some beliefs you have about how you would act if what you are imagining were true. Since Andy and I don't think you do have to consult these beliefs *consciously or not*, we think the N&S account is wrong.
Our presentation of the objection in the paper is potentially misleading since we use the example of an actor who is *consciously* wondering to himself, "What are my motivations here?"
But we think that when you act on what you are imagining, you need not do any such wondering, conscious or not.
About comment (ii): take my desire-like state that Tony is safe from harm. You, Andy, Aaron Meskin, and I might agree that this state is not best construed as a genuine desire about a fiction. I think Nichols, at least, would disagree (this comes up in SN's *Mind* review of Currie and Ravenscroft).
Andy and I thought the state is not best construed as a desire about Tony simply because we thought, when we wrote the paper, that it is implausible that you would want someone you know does not exist to be safe. But we haven't read your paper yet, so we are prepared to be convinced otherwise.
It might be that you, Andy, AM, and I don't disagree here. After all, Andy and I think there is a mental state (a make-desire) that is a lot like a desire that you can bear towards Tony even when you know he does not exist. We just think the functional role of that state is a little different from the functional role of, say, my desire-like state that my wife is safe from harm. We call the second state "desire" but not the first. But the important point for us is just that the two states have different, but similar, functional roles.
Hope that helps. Thanks again for the comments. And I am looking forward to reading your paper.
June 06, 2006 at 03:39 PM
Tyler, if the issues about self-consciousness aren't doing the heavy evidential lifting here, then I just don't see how y'all have an argument for your claim that we don't "have to consult these beliefs *consciously or not*". (Note that your talk of "wondering" again tilts things back in the self-consciousness direction.) The argument in the text has a sort of "Just check, and you won't find any beliefs!" flavor to it. But that kind of checking is insensitive to non-fully-conscious deployments of beliefs.
I also expect that you'd find, if you asked people why they behaved in certain ways during pretenses, that they'll frequently answer in terms of their beliefs about the pretend targets in question. "Why did you moo like that? You were supposed to be pretending to be a cat!" "Oh, I thought that cats moo. Don't cats moo?" This would be analogous, say, the most ordinary cases of walking to the fridge to get milk. You aren't reflectively thinking, "What behavior ought I produce, in order to seek milk? Aha! I shall produce fridge-opening behavior!" Your standing belief that there is milk in the fridge drives that behavior, without your having to stop and consider it at all.
Regarding (ii), maybe this is a purely verbal difference. (You aren't going to find a lot of hard-core arguing in our paper, I should confess. It's more a parsimony-cum-"why not?" argument.) It would help if perhaps you could spell out more of what you take to be the functional differences between desires and make-desires -- if they are all the same except that make-desires can concern fictional entities and desires can't, then this doesn't strike me as a good reason to posit a whole separate category of mental entity. That they have nothing like the willed flexibility of made-beliefs (i.e., one cannot simply decide to make-desire that Iago win out at the end of _Othello_) is in part reason to assimilate them back to regular desires, and not to a conative form of make-belief.
Jonathan Weinberg |
June 06, 2006 at 04:47 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.