What's wrong with moral internalism

Ratio 11 (1):14–36 (1998)

Moral Internalism is the claim that it is a priori that moral beliefs are reasons for action. At least three conceptions of 'reason' may be disambiguated: psychological, epistemological, and purely ethical. The first two conceptions of Internalism are false on conceptual, and indeed empirical, grounds. On a purely ethical conception of 'reasons', the claim is true but is an Externalist claim. Positive arguments for Internalism — from phenomenology, connection and oddness — are found wanting. Three possible responses to the stock Externalist objections are uncovered and overturned. In so doing a close relation between Internalism and Behaviourism is revealed, and some stock anti-behaviouristic arguments are co-opted for Externalism. The likely dependence of Internalism on an Atomistic Associationism is uncovered and criticised. Internalism is seen as being ultimately a type of Ethical Determinism. Finally, a sketch of an Anti-Associative Externalism is given whereby the notion of self determination of action is put forward as an account of moral motivation fit to resist both the internalist and the belief-desire psychology premises of the stock non-cognitivist argument.
Keywords Moral Internalism  Moral Externalism  Self Determinism  Anti Associationism  Ethical Determinism  Reasons for Action
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/1467-9329.00049
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Moral Reality and the End of Desire.Mark de Bretton Platts - 1980 - In Mark Platts (ed.), Reference, Truth, and Reality. Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Pragmatics of Moral Motivation.Caj Strandberg - 2011 - The Journal of Ethics 15 (4):341-369.
Internalizm i eksternalizm w metaetyce.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2012 - Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego.
Problems for Virtue Theories in Epistemology.Robert Lockie - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (2):169 - 191.
Does Particularism Solve the Moral Problem?1.Kasper Lippert–Rasmussen - 2002 - Philosophical Explorations 5 (2):125-140.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
172 ( #44,292 of 2,271,950 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
22 ( #37,689 of 2,271,950 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature