Motivational Ties

Must a rational ass equidistant from two equally attractive bales of hay starve for lack of a reason to prefer one bale to the other? Must a human being faced with a comparable, explicitly motivational, tie fail to pursue either option? Surely, one suspects, some practical resolution is possible. Surely, ties of either sort need not result in death or paralysis. But why? Donald Davidson has suggested that, in the human case, resolution depends upon the tie’s being broken---upon the agent’s coming to want to perform some action more than she wants to perform any genuine alternative. However, practical resolution is possible, I argue, even while the tie remains intact. This has significant implications for the theory of motivation. Most importantly, not all states that move us to action need be understood as moving us to A in virtue of their incorporating preponderant motivation to A.
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DOI 10.5840/jpr_1991_17
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