Motivation

Edited by Joshua May (University of Alabama, Birmingham)
About this topic
Summary Philosophers often treat motivation in connection with desire, given that they often use the term "desire" to refer to mental states that are in essence motivational. This does not necessarily lead to the theory that we are all ultimately self-interested (psychological egoism), since our ultimate desires could concern the welfare of others. And some believe motivation can be generated by states other than desire, such as belief, imagination, or intentions. Still, many share the view often labelled psychologism: motivation, even acting on reasons, must involve psychological states of some sort or other. After all, how could the fact that there is salmon on the table motivate me to consume it unless I at least believe this and want some salmon? Not everyone buys into a tight connection between mental states and motivation, however. Some seek to make an exception at least for rational action, which not all animals can exhibit. Proponents of anti-psychologism maintain that we don't need mental states at all in the causation and explanation of rational action. When we act on good reasons, for example, perhaps we can be motivated by something like the contents of those states---the propositions believed or desired.  Settling this dispute doesn't exhaust the philosophical issues surrounding motivation, but they are largely taken up in other categories.
Key works Davidson 1963 and Smith 1987 are contemporary and already classic pieces connecting motivation and desire, though couched in terms of reasons. They build on ideas in Anscombe 1957 (see her shopping list example, section 32). Anti-psychologism has clearly and explicitly been defended by Dancy (19952000).
Introductions Ch. 1 of Mele 2003 provides a comprehensive introduction to motivation, along with a useful glossary of terms (or see Mele 1995). The entries by Schroeder 2009 and Pettit 1998 cover desire, but they are useful introductions to motivation. Lenman 2010 (esp. sects. 5-6) discusses psychologism and related views.
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184 found
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1 — 50 / 184
  1. added 2020-05-19
    Emotional Actions Without Goals.Isaac Wiegman - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-31.
    Recent accounts of emotional action intend to explain such actions without reference to goals. Nevertheless, these accounts fail to specify the difference between goals and other kinds of motivational states. I offer two remedies. First, I develop an account of goals based on Michael Smith’s arguments for the Humean theory of motivation. On this account, a goal is a unified representation that determines behavior selection criteria and satisfaction conditions for an action. This opens the possibility that mental processes could influence (...)
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  2. added 2020-05-10
    Choice Set Dependent Performance and Post Decision Cognitive Dissonance.Toru Suzuki - 2019 - Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 163:24-42.
    A decision maker (DM) selects a project from a set of alternatives with uncertain productivity. After the choice, she observes a signal about productivity and decides how much effort to put in. This paper analyzes the optimal decision problem of the DM who rationally filters information to deal with her post-decision cognitive dissonance. It is shown that the optimal effort level for a project can be affected by unchosen projects in her choice set, and the nature of the choice set-dependence (...)
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  3. added 2020-03-19
    Aristotle on Motion in Incomplete Animals.Daniel Coren - forthcoming - Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science.
    I explain what Aristotle means when, after puzzling about the matter of motion in incomplete animals (those without sight, smell, hearing), he suggests in De Anima III 11.433b31-434a5 that just as incomplete animals are moved indeterminately, desire and phantasia are present in those animals, but present indeterminately. I argue that self-motion and its directing faculties in incomplete animals differ in degree but not in kind from those of complete animals. I examine how an object of desire differs for an incomplete (...)
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  4. added 2020-02-28
    Are Morally Good Actions Ever Free?Cory J. Clark, Adam Shniderman, Jamie B. Luguri, Roy F. Baumeister & Peter H. Ditto - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 63:161-182.
  5. added 2020-02-11
    Desire: Its Role in Practical Reason and the Explanation of Action.Robert Noggle - 1995 - Ethics 106 (4):848-850.
  6. added 2020-01-14
    Wanting or Having To: The Role of Goal Self-Concordance in Episodic Future Thinking.Alexandra Ernst, Frederick L. Philippe & Arnaud D'Argembeau - 2018 - Consciousness and Cognition 66:26-39.
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  7. added 2020-01-12
    From Readiness to Action: How Motivation Works.Noa Schori-Eyal, Marina Chernikova & Arie W. Kruglanski - 2014 - Polish Psychological Bulletin 45 (3):259-267.
    We present a new theoretical construct labeled motivational readiness. It is defined as the inclination, whether or not ultimately implemented, to satisfy a desire. A general model of readiness is described which builds on the work of prior theories, including animal learning models and personality approaches, and which aims to integrate a variety of research findings across different domains of motivational research. Components of this model include the Want state, and the Expectancy of being able to satisfy that Want. We (...)
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  8. added 2019-11-17
    Hunting for Happiness: Aristotle and the Good of Action.Don Tontiplaphol - unknown
    The starting point of the dissertation is a special kind of intentional action -- Aristotelian praxis, or, in a more metaphysical register, energeia -- a kind whose agent's intention in acting must be expressible as the deliverance of one's prohairesis , action that is the embodiment of one's conception of eupraxia , and, equivalently, of eudaimonia . It is special, since not all that we intentionally do can be intelligibly expressed as the deliverance of our conceptions of acting well. Recognition (...)
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  9. added 2019-10-09
    Назви діаспорних футбольних команд як віддзеркалення тяглості українських національно-культурних традицій.Iryna Protsyk - 2017 - Language: Classic – Modern – Postmodern 3:157-165.
    Статтю присвячено розглядові назв українських футбольних команд у діаспорі, починаючи з другої половини 40-х ХХ ст. Проаналізовано мотивованість цих номінацій та продемонстровано, як під впливом національних чинників, що були визначальними у виборі найменувань футбольних команд, збережено тяглість національних культурних традицій у назовництві футбольних клубів поза межами України.
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  10. added 2019-09-27
    Christine Tappolet: Emotions, Value and Agency (New York: Oxford University Press 2016). [REVIEW]Jean Moritz Müller - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
  11. added 2019-09-11
    Self-Deception as Omission.Quinn Hiroshi Gibson - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-22.
    In this paper I argue against three leading accounts of self-deception in the philosophical literature and propose a heretofore overlooked route to self-deception. The central problem with extant accounts of self-deception is that they are unable to balance two crucial desiderata: (1) to make the dynamics of self-deception (e.g., the formation of self-deceptive beliefs) psychologically plausible and (2) to capture self-deception as an intentional phenomenon for which the self-deceiver is responsible. I argue that the three leading views all fail on (...)
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  12. added 2019-07-25
    Understanding Action: Aristotelian Telos and Phantasia.Heda Segvic - 2002 - Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 5.
    Aristotelian telos is the action's projected goal - what the agent aims at in action - and also, if the action is successful, its accomplished goal. Grasping the projected telos involves grasping how the circumstances of the action, and the telos itself, appear to the agent. Phantasia, appearance, thus captures the internal side of action. The object of aiming, and of desire, appears to the agent as something good, hence for Aristotle valuation is built into the very nature of action. (...)
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  13. added 2019-07-25
    Charles, D., "Aristotle s Philosophy of Action". [REVIEW]M. Woods - 1986 - Mind 95:140.
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  14. added 2019-07-25
    Aristotle's Theory of Action.George Philip Webb - 1969 - Dissertation, University of Washington
  15. added 2019-07-03
    Are Desires Beliefs About Normative Reasons?Avery Archer - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    There has been an ongoing debate about whether desires are beliefs. Call the claim that they are the desire-as-belief thesis (DAB). This paper sets out to impugn the two versions of DAB that have enjoyed the most support in the philosophical literature: the guise of the good and the guise of reasons accounts. According to the guise of the good version of DAB, the desire to X is identical to the belief that X is good. According to the guise of (...)
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  16. added 2019-07-03
    Which Emotional Behaviors Are Actions?Jean Moritz Müller & Hong Yu Wong - forthcoming - In Andrea Scarantino (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory. New York City, New York, USA:
    There is a wide range of things we do out of emotion. For example, we smile with pleasure, our voices drop when we are sad, we recoil in shock or jump for joy, we apologize to others out of remorse. It is uncontroversial that some of these behaviors are actions. Clearly, apologizing is an action if anything is. Things seem less clear in the case of other emotional behaviors. Intuitively, the drop in a sad person’s voice is something that happens (...)
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  17. added 2019-06-06
    Living the Truth: A Theory of Action (Moral Traditions Series). By Klaus Demmer, MSC. Translated by Brian McNeil. Pp. X, 164, Washington, DC, Georgetown University Press, 2010, $24.25. [REVIEW]John R. Williams - 2012 - Heythrop Journal 53 (4):707-708.
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  18. added 2019-06-06
    Psychologism and Humeanism: Review of Dancy's Practical Reality.Wayne A. Davis - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2):452-459.
    In Practical Reality, Jonathan Dancy argues that our reasons for action are not psychological states, but things we take to be facts about the world, and shows that the reasons themselves are not causes. Dancy concludes that intentional actions are not explained by beliefs and desires, and that explanations of action in terms of reasons are not causal explanations. I show that these further conclusions are unwarranted by sketching an alternative theory of reasons according to which what it is for (...)
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  19. added 2019-06-06
    Humeanism, Psychologism, and the Normative Story.Michael Smith - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2):460-467.
    Jonathan Dancy’s Practical Reality is, I think, best understood as an attempt to undermine our allegiance to these two purported constitutive claims about action. If we must think that psychological states figure in the explanation of action then, according to Dancy, we should suppose that those psychological states are beliefs rather than desire-belief pairs. Dancy thus prefers pure cognitivism to Humeanism. But in fact he thinks that we have no business accepting any form of psychologism in the first place; no (...)
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  20. added 2019-06-06
    Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality.Sarah Stroud & Christine Tappolet (eds.) - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
    Among the many practical failures that threaten us, weakness of will or akrasia is often considered to be a paradigm of irrationality. The eleven new essays in this collection, written by an excellent international team of philosophers, some well-established, some younger scholars, give a rich overview of the current debate over weakness of will and practical irrationality more generally. Issues covered include classical questions such as the distinction between weakness and compulsion, the connection between evaluative judgement and motivation, the role (...)
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  21. added 2019-06-06
    The Unconscious.The Concept of Motivation.Sydney Shoemaker, A. C. MacIntyre & R. S. Peters - 1960 - Philosophical Review 69 (3):403.
  22. added 2019-06-05
    Kinds of Reasons: An Essay in the Philosophy of Action.Donnchadh O’Conaill - 2012 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (2):298-303.
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies, Volume 20, Issue 2, Page 298-303, May 2012.
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  23. added 2019-06-05
    Alvarez , Maria . Kinds of Reasons .Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. X+209. $60.00 (Cloth).Clayton Littlejohn - 2011 - Ethics 121 (3):638-642.
  24. added 2019-06-05
    Alfred R. Mele, Motivation and Agency: Mele, Alfred R. Motivation and Agency. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp. 264. $49.95 (Cloth).G. F. Schueler - 2004 - Ethics 115 (1):145-148.
  25. added 2019-04-26
    Psychological Resilience and Fragility: Existential-Analytical View.Iaryna Kaplunenko - 2018 - Psychology and Psychosocial Interventions 1:41-45.
    Summarizing the historical background and characteristics of the present, it should be noted that they are significantly different from the characteristics of the world where past generations lived, which undoubtedly poses new challenges for the human ability to withstand the growing pressure of stress factors. The article considers the problems of psychological resilience and fragility in terms of Existential-analytical psychotherapy of V. Frankl and A. Langle, analyzes the historical context of the present-day Ukraine, external and internal characteristics of the modern (...)
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  26. added 2019-02-12
    The Nature of Right Action.D. Taylor - 1936 - Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy 14 (4):283-294.
  27. added 2018-11-06
    Motivational Ties.Alfred R. Mele - 1991 - Journal of Philosophical Research 16:431-442.
    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 (...)
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  28. added 2018-11-05
    Review of Motivation and Agency. [REVIEW]Randolph Clarke - 2004 - Mind 113 (451):565-568.
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  29. added 2018-10-09
    Philosophy of Action From Suarez to Davidson.Constantine Sandis (ed.) - forthcoming
  30. added 2018-10-08
    Acting on a Ground : Reasons, Rational Motivation, and Explanation.Magnus Frei - 2016 - Dissertation, Fribourg
    When someone does something for a reason, what are the reasons for which she does what she does? What is her ‘motivating reason’, as it is sometimes put? The simple answer is: it depends on what is meant by ‘motivating reason’. Non-Psychologists hold that motivating reasons are what the agent believes. I have shown that given that we understand ‘motivating reasons’ as what I term 'grounds', this is quite correct, as what we believe is what plays the role of a (...)
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  31. added 2018-10-01
    Vivid Representations and Their Effects.Kengo Miyazono - 2018 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 9 (1):73-80.
    : Sinhababu’s Humean Nature contains many interesting and important ideas, but in this short commentary I focus on the idea of vivid representations. Sinhababu inherits his idea of vivid representations from Hume’s discussions, in particular his discussion of calm and violent passions. I am sympathetic to the idea of developing Hume’s insight that has been largely neglected by philosophers. I believe that Sinhababu and Hume are on the right track. What I do in this short commentary is to raise some (...)
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  32. added 2018-07-07
    Learning, Acquired Dispositions and the Humean Theory of Motivation.Christos Douskos - 2018 - Philosophical Papers 47 (2):199-233.
    A central point of contention in the ongoing debate between Humean and anti-Humean accounts of moral motivation concerns the theoretical credentials of the idea of mental states that are cognitive and motivational at the same time. Humeans claim that this idea is incoherent and thereby unintelligible (M. Smith, The Moral Problem, Blackwell 1994). I start by developing a linguistic argument against this claim. The semantics of certain ‘learning to’ and ‘knowing to’ ascriptions points to a dispositional state that has both (...)
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  33. added 2018-06-12
    An Empirical Solution to the Puzzle of Weakness of Will.Julia Haas - 2018 - Synthese (12):1-21.
    This paper presents an empirical solution to the puzzle of weakness of will. Specifically, it presents a theory of action, grounded in contemporary cognitive neuroscientific accounts of decision making, that explains the phenomenon of weakness of will without resulting in a puzzle.
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  34. added 2018-05-15
    Hume, Passion, and Action.Elizabeth S. Radcliffe - 2018 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    David Hume’s theory of action is well known for several provocative theses, including that passion and reason cannot be opposed over the direction of action. In Hume, Passion, and Action, the author defends an original interpretation of Hume’s views on passion, reason and motivation that is consistent with other theses in Hume’s philosophy, loyal to his texts, and historically situated. This book challenges the now orthodox interpretation of Hume on motivation, presenting an alternative that situates Hume closer to “Humeans” than (...)
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  35. added 2018-03-29
    Uncertainty and Control.Sven Ove Hansson - 2017 - Diametros 53:50-59.
    In a decision making context, an agent’s uncertainty can be either epistemic, i.e. due to her lack of knowledge, or agentive, i.e. due to her not having made use of her decision-making power. In cases when it is unclear whether or not a decision maker presently has control over her own future actions, it is difficult to determine whether her uncertainty is epistemic or agentive. Such situations are often difficult for the agent to deal with, but from an outsider’s perspective, (...)
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  36. added 2018-02-23
    Christopher G. Framarin's Desire and Motivation in Indian Philosophy, Routledge Hindu Studies. [REVIEW]Malcolm Keating - 2013 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 133 (1):160-62.
  37. added 2018-02-18
    The "Guise of the Ought-to-Be". A Deontic View of the Intentionality of Desire.Federico Lauria - 2017 - In Federico Lauria & Julien Deonna (eds.), The Nature of Desire. New York: Oxford University Press.
    How are we to understand the intentionality of desire? According to the two classical views, desire is either a positive evaluation or a disposition to act. This essay examines these conceptions of desire and argues for a deontic alternative, namely the view that desiring is representing a state of affairs as what ought to be. Three lines of criticism of the classical pictures of desire are provided. The first concerns desire’s direction of fit, i.e. the intuition that the world should (...)
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  38. added 2018-02-17
    A Companion to Hume.Elizabeth S. Radcliffe (ed.) - 2008 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    Comprised of twenty-nine specially commissioned essays, _A Companion to Hume_ examines the depth of the philosophies and influence of one of history's most remarkable thinkers. Demonstrates the range of Hume's work and illuminates the ongoing debates that it has generated Organized by subject, with introductions to each section to orient the reader Explores topics such as knowledge, passion, morality, religion, economics, and politics Examines the paradoxes of Hume's thought and his legacy, covering the methods, themes, and consequences of his contributions (...)
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  39. added 2018-01-11
    Cares, Identification, and Agency Reductionism.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):577-598.
    Reductionists about agency maintain that an agent’s causing something is reducible to states and events involving the agent causing something. Some worry that reductionism cannot accommodate robust forms of agency, such as self-determination. One reductionist answer to this worry, which I call ‘identification reductionism,’ contends that self-governing agents are identified with certain attitudes, and so these attitudes’ causing a decision count as the agent’s self-determining the decision. I argue that a prominent species of identification reductionism developed by Harry Frankfurt, Agnieszka (...)
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  40. added 2018-01-02
    Reason and Agency.Thomas Pink - 1997 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (3):263–280.
  41. added 2017-09-14
    What Kind of Theory is the Humean Theory of Motivation?Caroline T. Arruda - 2017 - Ratio 30 (3):322-342.
    I consider an underappreciated problem for proponents of the Humean theory of motivation. Namely, it is unclear whether is it to be understood as a largely psychological or largely metaphysical theory. I show that the psychological interpretation of HTM will need to be modified in order to be a tenable view and, as it will turn out, the modifications required render it virtually philosophically empty. I then argue that the largely metaphysical interpretation is the only a plausible interpretation of HTM's (...)
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  42. added 2017-09-03
    Thinking, Acting, Considering.Daniel Muñoz - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (2):255-270.
    According to a familiar (alleged) requirement on practical reason, one must believe a proposition if one is to take it for granted in reasoning about what to do. This paper explores a related requirement, not on thinking but on acting—that one must accept a goal if one is to count as acting for its sake. This is the acceptance requirement. Although it is endorsed by writers as diverse as Christine Korsgaard, Donald Davidson, and Talbot Brewer, I argue that it is (...)
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  43. added 2017-06-12
    The Guise of the Good.J. David Velleman - 1992 - Noûs 26 (1):3 - 26.
    The agent portrayed in much philosophy of action is, let's face it, a square. He does nothing intentionally unless he regards it or its consequences as desirable. The reason is that he acts intentionally only when he acts out of a desire for some anticipated outcome; and in desiring that outcome, he must regard it as having some value. All of his intentional actions are therefore directed at outcomes regarded sub specie boni: under the guise of the good. This agent (...)
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  44. added 2017-06-12
    D. Charles, "Aristotle's Philosophy of Action".James G. Lennox - 1986 - Philosophical Quarterly 36 (145):543.
  45. added 2017-05-31
    Ramsey's Principle Re-Situated.Jérôme Dokic & Pascal Engel - 2004 - In Hallvard Lillehammer & D. H. Mellor (eds.), Ramsey's Legacy. Oxford University Press.
    This paper is about Ramsey's Principle, according to which a belief's truth-conditions are those that guarantee the success of an action based on that belief whatever the underlying motivating desires. Some philosophers have argued that the Principle should be rejected because it leads to the apparently implausible consequence that any failure of action is the result of some false belief on the agent's part. There is a gap between action and success that cannot be bridged by the agent's cognitive state. (...)
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  46. added 2017-05-15
    Intention, Motive and Responsibility.Winston Barnes, W. D. Falk & A. E. Duncan-Jones - 1945 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 19:230-288.
  47. added 2017-04-26
    Humean Nature.Neil Sinhababu - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    This book defends the Humean Theory of Motivation, according to which desire drives all action and practical reasoning. -/- Desire motivates us to pursue its object. It makes thoughts of its object pleasant. It focuses attention on its object. Its effects are amplified by vivid representations of its object. These aspects of desire explain why motivation usually accompanies moral belief, how intentions shape our plans, how we exercise willpower, what human selves are, how action can express emotion, why we procrastinate, (...)
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  48. added 2017-03-24
    Ethical Non-Naturalism and the Guise of the Good.Francesco Orsi - 2018 - Topoi (4):581-590.
    The paper presents a positive argument for a version of metaphysically light ethical non-naturalism from the nature of mental states such as desires. It uses as its premise the time-honoured, and recently rediscovered, doctrine of the guise of the good, whereby it is essential to desire that the object of desire be conceived as good or as normatively favoured under some description. The argument is that if the guise of the good is a correct theory of desire, then a certain (...)
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  49. added 2017-03-04
    The Motivational Strength of Intentions.Renée Bilodeau - 2006 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 9:129-135.
    According to the early versions of the causal theory of action, intentional actions were both produced and explained by a beliefdesire pair. Since the end of the seventies, however, most philosophers consider intentions as an irreducible and indispensable component of any adequate account of intentional action. The aim of this paper is to examine and evaluate some of the arguments that gave rise to the introduction of the concept of intention in action theory. My contention is that none of them (...)
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  50. added 2017-03-01
    Halfhearted Action and Control.Shepherd Joshua - 2017 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4.
    Some of the things we do intentionally we do halfheartedly. I develop and defend an account of halfheartedness with respect to action on which one is halfhearted with respect to an action A if one’s overall motivation to A is weak. This requires getting clear on what it is to have some level of overall motivation with respect to an action, and on what it means to say one’s overall motivation is weak or strong. After developing this account, I defend (...)
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