Moral Reasoning. Moral Motivation and the Rational Foundation of Morals


Abstract
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 such a claim and confront it with a, however, obvious fact: our need to convince or, at least, to influence agents to act according to moral judgements that entail strong validity claims. Therefore we need to find a better ground for our moral norms than that provided by a narrow concept of practical reason, which ultimately offers the basis for the internalist’s intuitions. Classical philosophers believed that to have a “right” sense meant also to think accordingly, that there was no intelligence without a social or moral side and that a person who lacked moral sense was not, at the same time, very intelligent. This contradicts some deep Humean intuitions, and in any case requires a more complex concept of practical reason than the one we normally encounter in internalist moral philosophers. In the following pages, I would like to reflect on this kind of social reason, or intelligence, or moral rationality, in an attempt to couple, in a coherent vision of moral sense within the framework of practical reason, intuitions that appear in Kant and Adam Smith with empirical research about what the lack of moral sense could mean.
Keywords Moral Reasoning  Moral Sense  Ethics  Rational Foundation for Morals  Lack of Moral Sense  Narcissism  Kant  Internalism-Externalism  Practical Reason
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