Whole-Hearted Motivation and Relevant Alternatives: A Problem for the Contrastivist Account of Moral Reasons

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (5):835-845 (2014)

Andrew Jordan
Otterbein College
Recently, Walter Sinott-Armstrong and Justin Snedegar have argued for a general contrastivist theory of reasons. According to the contrastivist account of reasons, all reasons claims should be understood as a relation with an additional place for a contrast class. For example, rather than X being a reason for A to P simpliciter, the contrastivist claims that X is a reason for A to P out of {P,Q,R…}. The main goal of this paper is to argue that the contrastivist account of reasons will be ill-fitted for accommodating certain features of moral reasons. In brief, the reason why the contrastivist analysis fails is that it cannot adequately allow for cases of morally correct whole-hearted action—cases where consideration of any alternate course of action would be misguided. But, if all consideration of alternate courses of action is misguided, then it is hard to see how one can set the relevant contrast class that is essential to the contrastivist view—any contrast class will seem out of place. In addition, I address some of the arguments that have been given in favor of the contrastivist account of reasons and argue that there are at least two ways that the non-contrastivist can respond to these arguments
Keywords Moral Reasons  Contrastivism  Moral Motivation  Virtuous Agency  Virtue Theory
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-013-9485-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 40,000
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Ethics Without Principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
Moral Reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1993 - Blackwell.
Moral Skepticisms.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
From Contextualism to Contrastivism.Jonathan Schaffer - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 119 (1-2):73-104.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Deliberation, Reasons, and Alternatives.Justin Snedegar - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Contrastivist Manifesto.Walter Sinnott‐Armstrong - 2008 - Social Epistemology 22 (3):257 – 270.
Reason Claims and Contrastivism About Reasons.Justin Snedegar - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (2):231-242.
Contractualism, Moral Motivation, and Practical Reason.Samuel Freeman - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (6):281-303.
Mapping Moral Motivation.Eve Garrard & David McNaughton - 1998 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (1):45-59.
Empathy, Shared Intentionality, and Motivation by Moral Reasons.Marion Hourdequin - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):403 - 419.
Logical Reasons.Pascal Engel - 2005 - Philosophical Explorations 8 (1):21 – 38.
Moral Testimony and its Authority.Philip Nickel - 2001 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (3):253-266.
Francis Hutcheson: Why Be Moral?Douglas R. Paletta - 2011 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (2):149-159.


Added to PP index

Total views
60 ( #125,839 of 2,236,054 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #294,595 of 2,236,054 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature