Motivational Internalism and the Authority of Morality

Dissertation, Duke University (2000)
James Mahon
Lehman College (CUNY)
If it is true that an agent who has a moral reason for acting has a reason for acting independently of whether or not she has a desire to so act , then it cannot also be true both that moral reasons are necessarily motivating and that an agent who is motivated to act is motivated in virtue of a desire to so act . This dissertation argues that the arguments given against Motivational Internalism about Moral Reasons are stronger than the arguments given against either Moral Reasons Authoritativeness or Desire Motivationalism. ;Chapter 1 outlines two types of motivational internalism: Motivational Internalism about Moral Judgments , and Motivational Internalism about Moral Reasons . It also outlines six other sub-positions on the nature of moral reasons, moral judgments and moral obligations, and on the nature of the connection between desires and motivation. Two of these sub-positions are Moral Reasons Authoritativeness and Desire Motivationalism . ;Chapter 2 argues that deontological intuitionists, such as H. A. Prichard, rejected MIMR in order to defend both MRA and DM. Here I defend Prichard's motivational externalist account of moral motivation, in terms of a desire to do one's duty, from a selection of criticisms. ;Chapter 3 argues that W. D. Falk, who coined the terms "internalism" and "externalism", rejected DM in order to defend both MIMR and MRA. Here I argue that Falk's motivational internalist account of moral motivation, in terms of an impulse to act that is not a desire and that has a sui generis sense of necessity attached to it, fails. Since Falk has not refuted DM, he cannot successfully defend MRA. ;Chapter 4 argues that moral noncognitivists, such as A. J. Ayer, rejected MRA in order to defend both MIMR and DM. Here I argue that Ayer's account of moral reasons, according to which some fact about a situation is moral reason for acting if and only if awareness of this fact evokes a moral feeling in an agent, fails. Since Ayer has not refuted MRA, he cannot successfully defend MIMR
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