Motivation in agents

Noûs 42 (2):222–266 (2008)
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Abstract

The Humean theory of motivation remains the default position in much of the contemporary literature in meta-ethics, moral psychology, and action theory. Yet despite its widespread support, the theory is implausible as a view about what motivates agents to act. More specifically, my reasons for dissatisfaction with the Humean theory stem from its incompatibility with what I take to be a compelling model of the role of motivating reasons in first-person practical deliberation and third-person action explanations. So after first introducing some assumptions about the nature of agency in section one, I will turn to articulating and defending this account of motivating reasons in sections two through four of the paper. Section five then provides some background on the Humean theory before I argue directly against it in section six and critically examine the leading arguments for the view in section seven. Given limitations of space, however, I save the task of developing a positive anti-Humean view for another occasion.

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Christian Miller
Wake Forest University

Citations of this work

The Importance of Being Rational.Errol Lord - 2013 - Dissertation, Princeton University
The Ontology of Epistemic Reasons.John Turri - 2009 - Noûs 43 (3):490-512.
How and Why Knowledge is First.Clayton Littlejohn - 2017 - In A. Carter, E. Gordon & B. Jarvis (eds.), Knowledge First. Oxford University Press. pp. 19-45.
Motivational Internalism and the Challenge of Amoralism.Danielle Bromwich - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2):452-471.
Moral Motivation.Connie S. Rosati - 2006 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.

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