Pedersen Presents at Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy

Posted on 10/19/2015 9:31:35 AM

Hans Pedersen, of the Department of Philosophy, presented a paper titled "Outline of a Heideggerian Theory of Motivation” at the 54th annual conference of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP), held at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., October 8-10, 2015. Pedersen's paper was part of the Satellite Meeting of the Heidegger Circle.

Abstract: Generally speaking, a theory of motivation attempts to give an account of the process that brings about our actions. The Humean theory of motivation still holds a prominent place in much contemporary philosophy of action and moral psychology. Put succinctly, according to the Humean theory of motivation, human actions can be analyzed and explained by reference to beliefs and desires that lead to the action. For instance, my action of walking to the kitchen can be explained in terms of the combination of my desire to eat something and my belief that I will find something to eat in the kitchen. This explanation of action often is assumed when making further claims about the nature of human agency. Perhaps most importantly, this focus on the role of desires and beliefs in bringing about our actions lends itself to a causal analysis of human action, which in turn leads into the problem of free will and determinism. The aim of this paper is to develop a Heideggerian theory of motivation through contrast with the Humean theory of motivation and then sketch more broadly the ways in which the differences in the Heideggerian account lead to much different understandings of action.