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The Verdictive Organization of Desire

Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Deliberation often begins with the question ‘What do I want to do?’ rather than a question about what one ought to do. This paper takes that question at face value, as a question about which of one’s desires is strongest, which sometimes guides action. The paper aims to explain which properties of a desire make that desire strong, in the sense of strength relevant to this deliberative question.

Both motivational force and phenomenological intensity seem relevant to a desire’s strength; however, accounting for the strength of a desire in terms of these opens up significant indeterminacy about what we want. The paper argues that this indeterminacy is often resolved simply by posing the question ‘What do I want to do?’ to oneself: there is reason to believe that one’s answer will play a verdictive role, partially determining what the agent most wants.