Moral Judgment and Volitional Incapacity

In Michael O'Rourke (ed.), Topics in Contemporary Philosophy vol. 7. MIT Press (2010)
The central question of the branch of metaethics we may call philosophical moral psychology concerns the nature or essence of moral judgment: what is it to think that something is right or wrong, good or bad, obligatory or forbidden? One datum in this inquiry is that sincerely held moral views appear to influence conduct: on the whole, people do not engage in behaviours they genuinely consider base or evil, sometimes even when they would stand to benefit from it personally. Moral judgments thus appear to be motivationally effective, at least to an extent. This motivational success would be readily explained if they simply were motivationally effective psychological states, such as desires. This is what Hobbes seems to do when he claims that "whatsoever is the object of any man's appetite or desire, that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate and aversion, evil."1 But this is far too quick. We know that moral judgments can also fail to lead to corresponding action. For example, since it is conceptually possible – not to mention all too common in the actual world – to think that something is wrong and yet want to do it, thinking that something is wrong cannot simply consist in aversion toward it, unlike Hobbes seems to have thought. In this way, reflection on the various..
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DOI 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014731.003.0013
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