About this topic
Summary According to internalists about moral judgment, there is a necessary connection between making a 1st person moral judgment (such as "I morally ought to do F.") and being motivated to act in accordance with that judgment. Externalists about moral judgment deny that there is such a necessary connection. Those who embrace internalism face an apparent difficulty: How could a judgment of fact necessarily motivate? Internalists must provide an answer or assent to moral anti-realism of some kind. Externalists face another difficulty: How is it the case the moral judgments normally motivate agents? 
Key works Internalists arguments are at least as old as David 1751 and Kant 1997. More recent philosophers who follow in Hume's internalist anti-realist wake include Hare 1952, Blackburn 1984, and Gibbard 1990. Those who favor Kant's interalist realism number Smith 1994 and Korsgaard 1996 among them. Railton 1986Brink 1989, and Sturgeon 2006 make the case for externalism.
Introductions Rosati 2006 Finlay & Schroeder 2008
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  1. The Motivational Context.William A. Adams - 2001 - In P. Bouquet V. Akman (ed.), Modeling and Using Context. Springer. pp. 409--412.
  2. Morality and Psychology.Chrisoula Andreou - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (1):46–55.
    This article briefly discusses the connection between moral philosophy and moral psychology, and then explores three intriguing areas of inquiry that fall within the intersection of the two fields. The areas of inquiry considered focus on (1) debates concerning the nature of moral judgments and moral motivation; (2) debates concerning good and bad character traits and character-based explanations of actions; and (3) debates concerning the role of moral rules in guiding the morally wise agent.
  3. Aesthetic Judgements and Motivation.Alfred Archer - 2017 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (6):1-22.
    Are aesthetic judgements cognitive, belief-like states or non-cognitive, desire-like states? There have been a number of attempts in recent years to evaluate the plausibility of a non-cognitivist theory of aesthetic judgements. These attempts borrow heavily from non-cognitivism in metaethics. One argument that is used to support metaethical non-cognitivism is the argument from Motivational Judgement Internalism. It is claimed that accepting this view, together with a plausible theory of motivation, pushes us towards accepting non-cognitivism. A tempting option, then, for those wishing (...)
  4. Motivational Judgement Internalism and The Problem of Supererogation.Alfred Archer - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Research 41:601-621.
    Motivational judgement internalists hold that there is a necessary connection between moral judgments and motivation. There is, though, an important lack of clarity in the literature about the types of moral evaluation the theory is supposed to cover. It is rarely made clear whether the theory is intended to cover all moral judgements or whether the claim covers only a subset of such judgements. In this paper I will investigate which moral judgements internalists should hold their theory to apply to. (...)
  5. Internalism and the Part-Time Moralist: An Essay About the Objectivity of Moral Judgments.M. Bagaric - 2002 - Consciousness and Emotion 2 (2):255-271.
    This paper contends that internalism with respect moral motivation (the view that we are always moved to act in accordance with our moral judgments) is wrong. While internalism can accommodate amoralists, it cannot explain the phenomenon of ‘part-time moralists’ — the person who is (ostensibly at least) moved by some of his or her moral judgments but not others — and hence should be rejected. This suggests that moral judgments are beliefs (or conscious representations) as opposed to desires. It is (...)
  6. Motivational Internalism, Edited by Gunnar Björnsson, Strandberg Caj, Ragnar Francén Olinder, John Eriksson, and Fredrik Björkland.Derek Baker - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):814-816.
  7. Ethical Neo-Expressivism.Dorit Bar-On & Matthew Chrisman - 2009 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 4. Oxford University Press. pp. 132-65.
    A standard way to explain the connection between ethical claims and motivation is to say that these claims express motivational attitudes. Unless this connection is taken to be merely a matter of contingent psychological regularity, it may seem that there are only two options for understanding it. We can either treat ethical claims as expressing propositions that one cannot believe without being at least somewhat motivated (subjectivism), or we can treat ethical claims as nonpropositional and as having their semantic content (...)
  8. Pure Versus Hybrid Expressivism and the Enigma of Conventional Implicature.Stephen Barker - 2014 - In Guy Fletcher & Mike Ridge (eds.), Having it Both Ways: Hybrid Theories and Modern
Metaethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 199-222.
    Can hybridism about moral claims be made to work? I argue it can if we accept the conventional implicature approach developed in Barker (Analysis 2000). However, this kind of hybrid expressivism is only acceptable if we can make sense of conventional implicature, the kind of meaning carried by operators like ‘even’, ‘but’, etc. Conventional implictures are a form of pragmatic presupposition, which involves an unsaid mode of delivery of content. I argue that we can make sense of conventional implicatures, but (...)
  9. Moral Reasoning. Moral Motivation and the Rational Foundation of Morals.Luz Marina Barreto - manuscript
    In the following paper I will examine the possibility for a rational foundation of morals, rational in the sense that to ground a moral statement on reason amounts to being able to convince an unmotivated agent to conform to a moral rule - that is to say, to “rationally motivate” him (as Habermas would have said) to act in ways for which he or she had no previous reason to act. We will scrutinize the “internalist’s” objection (in Williams’ definition) to (...)
  10. The Role of Internalism in Moral Theory.Julia Bartkowiak - 1993 - Auslegung 19 (1):47-61.
  11. Internalism--The Basis of Ethical Theory.Julia Joan Bartkowiak - 1990 - Dissertation, The University of Rochester
    Internalism and externalism in ethical theory are two opposing positions concerning the connection between moral obligation and an agent's motivations. Internalism is the view that motivation is a necessary part of moral obligation, and externalism is a denial of internalism. According to externalism, an agent can have a moral obligation to perform a particular action even though the agent lacks a motive for performing that action. The main objective of this dissertation is to focus attention on, and solve, this fundamental (...)
  12. Meta-Ethical Rationalism and the Amoralist Challenge: An Externalist Response to Michael Smith's Reliability Argument.Gerald Beaulieu - 2007 - Dialogue 46 (4):751-760.
  13. Moral Judgment Purposivism: Saving Internalism From Amoralism.M. S. Bedke - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 144 (2):189-209.
    Consider orthodox motivational judgment internalism: necessarily, A’s sincere moral judgment that he or she ought to φ motivates A to φ. Such principles fail because they cannot accommodate the amoralist, or one who renders moral judgments without any corresponding motivation. The orthodox alternative, externalism, posits only contingent relations between moral judgment and motivation. In response I first revive conceptual internalism by offering some modifications on the amoralist case to show that certain community-wide motivational failures are not conceptually possible. Second, I (...)
  14. Explaining Unethical Behaviour Among People Motivated to Act Prosocially.David M. Bersoff - 1999 - Journal of Moral Education 28 (4):413-428.
    Moral reasoning theorists working in the constructivist tradition have tended to explain unethical behaviour by assuming that a breakdown occurs in the link between a person's moral judgement within a particular situation and his ultimate behaviour in that situation. This breakdown is usually seen as being the result of the individual ignoring his deontic judgement in favour of meeting a competing, non-moral social obligation or of fulfilling a selfish interest. This model of unethical behaviour has led to suggestions that moral (...)
  15. Recent Work on Motivational Internalism.Fredrik Björklund, Gunnar Björnsson, John Eriksson, Ragnar Francén Olinder & Caj Strandberg - 2012 - Analysis 72 (1):124-137.
    Reviews work on moral judgment motivational internalism from the last two decades.
  16. Contextualism in Ethics.Gunnar Björnsson - forthcoming - International Encyclopedia of Ethics.
    In more than one way, context matters in ethics. Uncontroversially, the ethical status of an action might depend on context: though it is typically wrong not to keep a promise, some contexts make it permissible. More controversially, some have suggested that the meaning or truth-conditions of a moral judgment or moral assertion depend not only on the properties of the act it concerns and the context in which it would be performed, but also on features of the context in which (...)
  17. How Emotivism Survives Immoralists, Irrationality, and Depression.Gunnar Björnsson - 2002 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):327-344.
    Argues that emotivism is compatible with cases where we seem to lack motivation to act according to our moral opinions.
  18. En internalistisk teori om moraliska uppfattningar.Gunnar Björnsson - 2000 - Filosofisk Tidskrift 1.
    Responds to Ingmar Persson's criticism of my Moral Internalism: An Essay in Moral Psychology (SU 1998). In Swedish.
  19. Moral Internalism: An Essay in Moral Psychology.Gunnar Björnsson - 1998 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    An ancient but central divide in moral philosophy concerns the nature of opinions about what is morally wrong or what our moralduties are. Some philosophers argue that moral motivation is internal to moral opinions: that moral opinions consist of motivationalstates such as desires or emotions. This has often been seen as athreat to the possibility of rational argument and justification inmorals. Other philosophers argue that moral motivation is external to moral opinion: moral opinions should be seen as beliefs about moral (...)
  20. Motivational Internalism and Folk Intuitions.Gunnar Björnsson, John Eriksson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder & Fredrik Björklund - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (5):715-734.
    Motivational internalism postulates a necessary connection between moral judgments and motivation. In arguing for and against internalism, metaethicists traditionally appeal to intuitions about cases, but crucial cases often yield conflicting intuitions. One way to try to make progress, possibly uncovering theoretical bias and revealing whether people have conceptions of moral judgments required for noncognitivist accounts of moral disagreement, is to investigate non-philosophers' willingness to attribute moral judgments. A pioneering study by Shaun Nichols seemed to undermine internalism, as a large majority (...)
  21. Internalists Beware—We Might All Be Amoralists!Gunnar Björnsson & Ragnar Francén Olinder - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):1 - 14.
    Standard motivational internalism is the claim that by a priori or conceptual necessity, a psychological state is a moral opinion only if it is suitably related to moral motivation. Many philosophers, the authors of this paper included, have assumed that this claim is supported by intuitions to the effect that amoralists?people not suitably related to such motivation?lack moral opinions proper. In this paper we argue that this assumption is mistaken, seeming plausible only because defenders of standard internalism have failed to (...)
  22. Motivational Internalism: Contemporary Debates.Gunnar Björnsson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder, John Eriksson & Fredrik Björklund - 2015 - In Gunnar Björnsson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder, John Eriksson & Fredrik Björklund (eds.), Motivational Internalism. Oxford University Press. pp. 1–20.
    Motivational internalism—the idea that moral judgments are intrinsically or necessarily connected to motivation—has played a central role in metaethical debates. In conjunction with a Humean picture of motivation, internalism has provided a challenge for theories that take moral judgments to concern objective aspects of reality, and versions of internalism have been seen as having implications for moral absolutism, realism, and rationalism. But internalism is a controversial thesis, and the apparent possibility of amoralists and the rejection of strong forms of internalism (...)
  23. Motivational Internalism.Gunnar Björnsson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder, John Eriksson & Fredrik Björklund (eds.) - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
    Motivational internalism—the idea that there is an intrinsic or necessary connection between moral judgment and moral motivation—is a central thesis in a number of metaethical debates. In conjunction with a Humean picture of motivation, it provides a challenge for cognitivist theories that take moral judgments to concern objective aspects of reality. Versions of internalism have potential implications for moral absolutism, realism, non-naturalism, and rationalism. Being a constraint on more detailed conceptoins of moral motivation and moral judgment, it is also directly (...)
  24. Moral Sensibility Theory and Moral Objectivity.Christopher Lee Blakey - 1998 - Dissertation, University of California, Riverside
    Sensibility theory is a metaethical view whose constituent philosophical positions include moral cognitivism, moral internalism, and the Humean theory of action. Each of these theses possesses a high degree of plausibility when considered individually, but the triad is often thought to be jointly inconsistent. If motivation requires a desire, and if moral judgment expresses only belief, then motivation cannot be internal to that judgment. Alternatively, and again assuming motivation requires a desire, if motivation is internal to the acceptance of a (...)
  25. Reason and Value.E. J. Bond - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
    The relations between reason, motivation and value present problems which, though ancient, remain intractable. If values are objective and rational how can they move us and if they are dependent on our contingent desires how can they be rational? E. J. Bond makes a bold attack on this dilemma. The widespread view among philosophers today is that judgements contain an irreducible element of personal commitment. To this Professor Bond proposes an account of values as objective and value judgements as true (...)
  26. Believing Falsely Makes It So.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2006 - Mind 115 (460):833-866.
    that there is something rationally or conceptually defective in judging that an act is right without being in any way motivated towards it—is one which has tended to lead either to error theories of ethics on the one hand, or acceptance of the truth of internalism on the other. This paper argues that it does play a kind of subject-setting role, but that our responses to cases can be rationalised without requiring that internalism is true for ethical realism to be (...)
  27. Moral Obligation and Everyday Advice.Bob Brecher - 2005 - South African Journal of Philosophy 24 (2):109-120.
    A major obstacle in the way of any rationalistic understanding of morality is that the moral ‘ought' obliges action: and on the (neo-)Humean view, action is thought to require affect. If, however, one could show that “ordinary” practical reasons are by themselves action-guiding, then moral reasons – a particular sort of practical reasons – also have no need of desire to “move” us to act. So how does the practical ‘ought' work? To answer that, we need to ask what exactly (...)
  28. A Puzzle About Moral Motivation.David O. Brink - unknown
    Our puzzle about moral motivation can be seen as a tension that we encounter when we try to reconcile intellectual and practical aspects of morality. Cognitivists interpret moral judgments as expressing cognitive attitudes, such as belief. Moral judgments ascribe properties – axiological, deontic, and aretaic – to persons, actions, institutions, and policies. Internalists believe that moral judgments necessarily engage the will and motivate. We expect people to be motivated to act in accord with their moral judgments and would find it (...)
  29. Handout #3: Moral Motivation and Externalism.David O. Brink - unknown
    This argument would show weak internalism to be a conceptual truth. But this argument is not compelling. Sometimes when we say that I have a reason to φ, we mean • (a) There is a behavioral norm that enjoins φ-ing and applies to me. In this sense of reason, moral norms do imply reasons. There are as many kinds of reasons as there are norms, including moral reasons, legal reasons, reasons of etiquette. But we often have something more in mind (...)
  30. The Significance of Desire.David O. Brink - 2008 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 3:5-45.
  31. Motivational Internalism and the Challenge of Amoralism.Danielle Bromwich - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2):452-471.
    Motivational internalism is the thesis that captures the commonplace thought that moral judgements are necessarily motivationally efficacious. But this thesis appears to be in tension with another aspect of our ordinary moral experience. Proponents of the contrast thesis, motivational externalism, cite everyday examples of amoralism to demonstrate that it is conceptually possible to be completely unmoved by what seem to be sincere first-person moral judgements. This paper argues that the challenge of amoralism gives us no reason to reject or modify (...)
  32. How Not to Argue for Motivational Internalism.Danielle Bromwich - 2011 - In Thom Brooks (ed.), New Waves in Ethics. Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 64-87.
  33. Clearing Conceptual Space for Cognitivist Motivational Internalism.Danielle Bromwich - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (3):343 - 367.
    Cognitivist motivational internalism is the thesis that, if one believes that 'It is right to ϕ', then one will be motivated to ϕ. This thesis—which captures the practical nature of morality—is in tension with a Humean constraint on belief: belief cannot motivate action without the assistance of a conceptually independent desire. When defending cognitivist motivational internalism it is tempting to either argue that the Humean constraint only applies to non-moral beliefs or that moral beliefs only motivate ceteris paribus . But (...)
  34. Is Hume an Internalist?Charlotte Brown - 1988 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 26 (1):69-87.
    Hume is committed, By one of his criticisms of reason as the route to moral knowledge, To an internalist position. In the argument from motivation, Hume starts by observing that morality is practical--That morals excite passions and produce or prevent actions. But, Hume argues, Rationalist moral theories cannot explain how moral considerations motivate. This is because reason alone is incapable of motivating us. The premise that morality is practical, However, May be interpreted in two ways--Either in an externalist or internalist (...)
  35. Doxastic Desire and Attitudinal Monism.Douglas I. Campbell - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    How many attitudes must be posited at the level of reductive bedrock in order to reductively explain all the rest? Motivational Humeans hold that at least two attitudes are indispensable, belief and desire. Desire-As-Belief theorists beg to differ. They hold that the belief attitude can do the all the work the desire attitude is supposed to do, because desires are in fact nothing but beliefs of a certain kind. If this is correct it has major implications both for the philosophy (...)
  36. Against Lewis on ‘Desire as Belief’.Douglas Ian Campbell - forthcoming - Polish Journal of Philosophy 12 (2).
    David Lewis describes, then attempts to refute, a simple anti-Humean theory of desire he calls ‘Desire as Belief’. Lewis’ critics generally accept that his argument is sound and focus instead on trying to show that its implications are less severe than appearances suggest. In this paper I argue that Lewis’ argument is unsound. I show that it rests on an essential assumption that can be straightforwardly proven false using ideas and principles to which Lewis is himself committed.
  37. What is Moral Judgment?Richmond Campbell - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (7):321-349.
    Moral knowledge appears to require moral judgments to be states of belief, yet they must at the same time be states of desire and feeling if they embody the motivation that we feel when we make moral judgments. How can the same judgment be a state of belief and a state of desire or feeling, simultaneously? [...] This problem may be resolved, I shall contend, by understanding moral judgments to be complex, multifunctional states that normally comprise both states of belief (...)
  38. De Dicto Desires and Morality as Fetish.Vanessa Carbonell - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (2):459-477.
    Abstract It would be puzzling if the morally best agents were not so good after all. Yet one prominent account of the morally best agents ascribes to them the exact motivational defect that has famously been called a “fetish.” The supposed defect is a desire to do the right thing, where this is read de dicto . If the morally best agents really are driven by this de dicto desire, and if this de dicto desire is really a fetish, then (...)
  39. Depression, Listlessness, and Moral Motivation.Michael Cholbi - 2011 - Ratio 24 (1):28-45.
    Motivational internalism (MI) holds that, necessarily, if an agent judges that she is morally obligated to ø, then, that agent is, to at least some minimal extent, motivated to ø. Opponents of MI sometimes invoke depression as a counterexample on the grounds that depressed individuals appear to sincerely affirm moral judgments but are ‘listless’ and unmotivated by such judgments. Such listlessness is a credible counterexample to MI, I argue, only if the actual clinical disorder of depression, rather than a merely (...)
  40. Belief Attribution and the Falsification of Motive Internalism.Michael Cholbi - 2006 - Philosophical Psychology 19 (5):607 – 616.
    The metatethical position known as motive internalism (MI) holds that moral beliefs are necessarily motivating. Adina Roskies (in Philosophical Psychology, 16) has recently argued against MI by citing patients with injuries to the ventromedial (VM) cortex as counterexamples to MI. Roskies claims that not only do these patients not act in accordance with their professed moral beliefs, they exhibit no physiological or affective evidence of being motivated by these beliefs. I argue that Roskies' attempt to falsify MI is unpersuasive because (...)
  41. Moral Belief Attribution: A Reply to Roskies.Michael Cholbi - 2006 - Philosophical Psychology 19 (5):629 – 638.
    I here defend my earlier doubts that VM patients serve as counterexamples to motivational internalism by highlighting the difficulties of belief attribution in light of holism about the mental and by suggesting that a better understanding of the role of emotions in the self-attribution of moral belief places my earlier Davidsonian "theory of mind" argument in a clearer light.
  42. Kantian Morals and Humean Motives.Philip Clark - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):109–126.
    The idea that moral imperatives are categorical is commonly used to support internalist claims about moral judgment. I argue that the categorical quality of moral requirements shows at most that moral motivation need not flow from a background desire to be moral. It does not show that moral judgments can motivate by themselves, or that amoralism is impossible.
  43. An Affective Approach to Moral Motivation.Christine Clavien - 2010 - Journal of Cognitive Science 11 (2):129-160.
    Over the last few years, there has been a surge of work in a new field called “moral psychology”, which uses experimental methods to test the psychological processes underlying human moral activity. In this paper, I shall follow this line of approach with the aim of working out a model of how people form value judgements and how they are motivated to act morally. I call this model an “affective picture”: ‘picture’ because it remains strictly at the descriptive level and (...)
  44. The Evolution of Moral Intuitions and Their Feeling of Rightness.Christine Clavien & Chloë FitzGerald - forthcoming - In Joyce R. (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy.
    Despite the widespread use of the notion of moral intuition, its psychological features remain a matter of debate and it is unclear why the capacity to experience moral intuitions evolved in humans. We first survey standard accounts of moral intuition, pointing out their interesting and problematic aspects. Drawing lessons from this analysis, we propose a novel account of moral intuitions which captures their phenomenological, mechanistic, and evolutionary features. Moral intuitions are composed of two elements: an evaluative mental state and a (...)
  45. Ethical Internalism and Cognitive Theories of Motivation.Allen Coates - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 129 (2):295-315.
    Cognitive internalism is the view that moral judgments are both cognitive and motivating. Philosophers have found cognitive internalism to be attractive in part because it seems to offer support for the idea that moral reasons are categorical, that is, independent of agents’ desires. In this paper, I argue that it offers no such support.
  46. Do Objections to Motivational Judgment Internalism Cripple Gibbard's Account?Aaron Cobb - unknown - Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 20.
  47. Practical Reason and the Requirements of Internalism.James Brian Coleman - 2002 - Dissertation, Purdue University
    The present state of the traditional empiricist/rationalist debate in ethics takes as its main focus the motivational capacity of practical reason. There are two groups of views on the issue. On one side, there are Humean naturalists, who argue that only beliefs and desires are sufficient for motivation, and on the other, Kantian rationalists, who claim that rationality as such is capable of motivating morally. I discuss critically a particular rationalist proposal, namely, Christine Korsgaard's influential formulation of what she calls (...)
  48. Review: Ethics and the A Priori: Selected Essays on Moral Psychology and Meta-Ethics. [REVIEW]David Copp - 2006 - Mind 115 (458):476-481.
  49. Belief, Reason, and Motivation: Michael Smith's "the Moral Problem".David Copp - 1997 - Ethics 108 (1):33-54.
  50. An Externalist Solution to the "Moral Problem".Terence D. Cuneo - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):359-380.
    In his recent book, The Moral Problem , Michael Smith presents a number of arguments designed to expose the difficulties with so-called 'extcrnalist' theories of motivation. This essay endeavors to defend externalism from Smith's attacks. I attempt three tasks in the essay. First, I try to clarify and reformulate Smith's distinction between internalism and externalism. Second, I formulate two of Smith's arguments- what I call the 'reliability argument' and 'the rationalist argument' -and attempt to show that these arguments fail to (...)
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