Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Religion, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Patricia Easton

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Graham Oddie

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gideon Manning

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Kevin Wolfe

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Paul R Pistone


Attachment, Desire, Moral Psychology, Perception, Value

Subject Categories

Philosophy | Religion


In this project I investigate and develop a theory of desire primarily focused on the metaphysics of desire. Since my theory of desire is an evaluative theory, I address discussions concerning value and goodness, and its relation to the ethics and metaphysics of desire. Defining a desire is a complex endeavor and so is determining how desires fit within our mental economy. To locate my position, I begin with an investigation of various, often opposing, theories of desire. I examine motivational theories, pleasure-based theories, reward/learning accounts, and evaluative models. Ultimately, I argue that none of these theories provides adequate explanation for the metaphysics or phenomenology of desire. After providing arguments against these approaches, I develop my position called the “agent relative” model. I argue that desire is affective and that all affect requires an attachment to the object. Attachments are essentially self-regarding; therefore, desire is essentially self-regarding. I argue that for S to desire P, is for S to see P as good-for S. It may be that for S to desire P, is for S to experience P as good rather than experiencing P as good for S’s own wellbeing. Nevertheless, I argue for the latter and hold that the former can be true of hope, but that hope and desire are different. Finally, I argue that given my evaluative theory of desire, a modified desire satisfaction account of well-being can connect the truths found in standard desire satisfaction models with an objective list model of well-being.