Explination Of Butlers Thesis

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Bret Hribar Q1: Butler’s theory of desire separates all desires into two groups, the desire for “self-love” and the desire for “particular affection”, which are all other desires like hunger, sleep, or sex. “Self-love” is a person general desire for happiness, this, as Butler states is an internal desire, a desire for our own enjoyment and satisfaction. Butler separates this desire from the desire for “particular affections” because these are all external desires, the desire for objects around us that fulfill those desires. He says that these desires are not based on reason, but may follow from it. For example a person instinctively wants to eat or drink but may not know why he needs to eat or drink. Therefore that desire for food is not a conscious decision, “I should eat now because I need the energy to live,” but rather it is an innate desire, “I want food because I am hungry.” His distinction separates all the desires into the reasoning section of the mind, that a particular action would be in the best interest of themselves, “self-love”, and the animalistic desire for a certain thing. For example a person who wants to smoke a cigarette does so because of the need for nicotine, “a particular affection”, whereas the person knows the cigarette is bad for them and that they shouldn’t smoke, which is self interest. Q2: In order to show that all actions are not motivated by self-love Butler gives reasons why all actions might be motivated by self-love and them tries to disprove them. He states that all desires are self motivated, even the ones that appear not to be. A person may donate money to help the less fortunate but they are not motivated to do so because of a need to decrease someone else’s suffering but are motivated by a need to ease their own guilt. The point he is making is that all actions done by a person are motivated by the desire for their own happiness and since all desires are ones own, all desires must be aimed at self-love. The reason, Butler points out, that this deduction is wrong is due to the target of the desire. Some things are pursued because we know that they will make us happier, the reason or target of this desire is internal, that self motivated action is self love. Not all desires are based on our own best interest though, you may hate another person and want to hurt them, but by doing so may not be in your interest, he might break your face.

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