Motivational Internalism and the Challenge of Amoralism

European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2):452-471 (2016)
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Abstract

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 motivational internalism. Instead of attempting to diagnose the motivational failure of the amoral agent or restrict the internalist thesis in the face of these examples, I argue that we should critically examine the assumptions that underlie the challenge. Such an examination reveals that the examples smuggle in substantive assumptions that the internalist has no reason to accept. This argument has two important implications for the debate in moral motivation: first, it reveals that the motivational externalist needs a new argumentative strategy; and second, it shows that there is nothing especially problematic about a formulation of the thesis that captures the core internalist intuition that first-person moral judgements are necessarily accompanied by motivation.

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Author's Profile

Danielle Bromwich
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Famine, Affluence, and Amorality.David Sackris - 2021 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 17 (2):(A1)5-29.
Ethical Judgment and Motivation.David Faraci & Tristram McPherson - 2017 - In Tristram Colin McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. New York: Routledge. pp. 308-323.
Options for Hybrid Expressivism.Caj Strandberg - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):91-111.
A challenge for Humean externalism.Steven Swartzer - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):23-44.

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References found in this work

Virtue and Reason.John Mcdowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.
Virtue and Reason.John McDowell - 1997 - In Roger Crisp & Michael Slote (eds.), Virtue Ethics. Oxford University Press.
Desiring the bad: An essay in moral psychology.Michael Stocker - 1979 - Journal of Philosophy 76 (12):738-753.

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