Motivation and agency: Precis [Book Review]

Philosophical Studies 123 (3):243–247 (2005)
Abstract
In Motivation and Agency, I defend answers to a web of questions about motivation and human agency. I benefit from – and react to – not only important philosophical work on mind, action, and morality but also relevant empirical work in such fields as the psychology of motivation, social psychology, physiological psychology, and neurobiology. The questions include the following. Can a plausible cognitivist moral theory require that moral ought-beliefs essentially encompass motivation to act accordingly? Where does the motivational power of practical reasoning lie? How are reasons for action related to motivation? What do motivational explanations of different kinds have in common? What is it to decide to do something? What is it for an attitude essentially to encompass motivation to act? What is it for one such attitude to have more motivational force or strength than another? What room does an acceptable view of the connection between motivational strength and intentional action leave for self-controlled agency? Is it likely that a proper account of motivated, goal-directed action will be a causal account? Can a causal perspective on the nature and explanation of action accommodate human agency par excellence? What emerges from my answers is a view of human agency.
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