Dispositions and fetishes: Externalist models of moral motivation

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):619-638 (2000)
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Internalism says that if an agent judges that it is right for her to φ, then she is motivated to φ. The disagreement between Internalists and Externalists runs deep, and it lingers even in the face of clever intuition pumps. An argument in Michael Smith’s The Moral Problem seeks some leverage against Externalism from a point within normative theory. Smith argues by dilemma: Externalists either fail to explain why motivation tracks moral judgment in a good moral agent or they attribute a kind of fetishism to good moral agents. I argue that there are alternative models of moral motivation available to Externalists, in particular a model according to which a good moral agent is one who is effectively regulated by a second order desire to desire to do what is right



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James Dreier
Brown University

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