A Puzzle about Desire: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Wanting Defended Summer 2017 Abstract: In this dissertation I pose a new puzzle about desire, one grounded in three plausible but jointly inconsistent propositions. According to the standard view in metaphysics, (1) all desires are dispositional states. Epistemologists, though, think that (2) we have privileged access to some of our desires. But (3) it is very difficult to see how we could have privileged access to any dispositional state. In this work, I explore this disconnect between the metaphysics and epistemology of desire. I argue that we need a new metaphysical account of desire—one that captures its phenomenal character. I then argue that it is on the basis of the unique phenomenology of desires—what I call attraction—that we come to possess epistemically secure, uniquely first-personal knowledge of our desires. Such privileged access to our desires helps explain how we can possess the type of rational, autonomous agency that is crucial for our understanding of ourselves as persons.
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