Reasons for action: Internal vs. external

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2008)
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Abstract

Often, when there is a reason for you to do something, it is the kind of thing to motivate you to do it. For example, if Max and Caroline are deciding whether to go to the Alcove for dinner, Caroline might mention as a reason in favor, the fact that the Alcove serves onion rings the size of doughnuts, and Max might mention as a reason against, the fact that it is so difficult to get parking there this time of day. It is some sign—perhaps not a perfect sign, but some sign—that each of these really is a reason, that Max and Caroline feel the tug in each direction. Mention of the Alcove's onion rings makes them feel to at least some degree inclined to go, and mention of the parking arrangements makes them feel to at least some degree inclined not to. According to some philosophers, reasons for action always bear some relation like this to motivation. This idea is variously known as ‘ reasons internalism’, ‘internalism about reasons ’, or ‘the internal reasons theory’. According to other philosophers, not all reasons are related to motivation in any of the ways internalists say. This idea is known as ‘ reasons externalism’ or ‘externalism about reasons ’

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Author Profiles

Stephen Finlay
Australian Catholic University
Mark Schroeder
University of Southern California

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Rational endorsement.Will Fleisher - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2649-2675.
Conceptual Ethics II.Alexis Burgess & David Plunkett - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1102-1110.
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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Slaves of the passions.Mark Andrew Schroeder - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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