Moral Motivation

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998)
Questions about the possibility and nature of moral motivation occupy a central place in the history of ethics. Philosophers disagree, however, about the role that motivational investigations should play within the larger subject of ethical theory. These disagreements surface in the dispute about whether moral thought is necessarily motivating – ‘internalists’ affirming that it is,‘externalists’ denying this. [...] There are also important questions about the content of moral motivations. A moral theory should help us to make sense of the fact that people are often moved to do the right thing, by identifying a basic motive to moral behaviour that is both widespread and intelligible, as a serious source of reasons.
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