David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (3):217-242 (1999)
Rational agency may be thought of as intentional activity that is guided by the agent's conception of what they have reason to do. The paper identifies and assesses three approaches to this phenomenon, which I call internalism, meta-internalism, and volitionalism. Internalism accounts for rational motivation by appeal to substantive desires of the agent's that are conceived as merely given; I argue that it fails to do full justice to the phenomenon of guidance by one's conception of one's reasons. Meta-internalism explains this phenomenon by postulating higher-order dispositions, consitutive of (rational) agency itself, which causally interact with the agent's normative beliefs to produce corresponding motivations to action. I show that meta-internalism comes to grief over cases of akrasia, insofar as it leaves no room for the capacity for rational guidance when agents voluntarily act at variance with their judgments about what they have reason to do. Volitionalism, I contend, improves on both internalism and meta-internalism. Its distinctive feature is the postulation of a kind of motivation that is directly subject to the agent's control, and independent of the dispositions and desires to which the agent is passively subject.
|Keywords||agency akrasia desire|
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Citations of this work BETA
Sabine A. Döring (2007). Seeing What to Do: Affective Perception and Rational Motivation. Dialectica 61 (3):363-394.
Derek Baker (2014). The Abductive Case for Humeanism Over Quasi-Perceptual Theories of Desire. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 8 (2):1-29.
Karen Jones (2003). Emotion, Weakness of Will, and the Normative Conception of Agency. In A. Hatzimoysis (ed.), Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. Cambridge University Press 181-200.
Simon Blackburn (2010). The Majesty of Reason. Philosophy 85 (1):5-27.
Patrick Fleming (2014). Ego Depletion and the Humean Theory of Motivation. Open Journal of Philosophy 4 (3):390-396.
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