How to Solve Prichard's Dilemma: A Comlex Contractualist Account of Moral Motivation

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (1):1-19 (2015)
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T. M. Scanlon’s contractualist account of morality is articulated alongside and built upon groundbreaking work on moral motivation. According to Scanlon, the central challenge of providing an account of moral motivation is navigating “Prichard’s Dilemma,” which requires that an account be both helpfully explanatory and morally relevant. Scanlon’s own solution is that one has a reason to act rightly because doing so is an aspect of living with others on terms they could accept. There is much to like about this account, and so, in this paper, I begin with many of Scanlon’s assumptions. I then argue that Scanlon’s own account of moral motivation fails to navigate Prichard’s Dilemma, as does another solution that I derive from his broader view. I then close by suggesting that an account of moral motivation must be “complex,” involving different reasons to satisfy the competing desiderata of Prichard’s Dilemma.



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Travis Rieder
Johns Hopkins University

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On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Morals by agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Practical philosophy.Immanuel Kant - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Alienation, consequentialism, and the demands of morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.

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