The Pragmatics of Moral Motivation

The Journal of Ethics 15 (4):341-369 (2011)

Abstract

One of the most prevalent and influential assumptions in metaethics is that our conception of the relation between moral language and motivation provides strong support to internalism about moral judgments. In the present paper, I argue that this supposition is unfounded. Our responses to the type of thought experiments that internalists employ do not lend confirmation to this view to the extent they are assumed to do. In particular, they are as readily explained by an externalist view according to which there is a pragmatic and standardized connection between moral utterances and motivation. The pragmatic account I propose states that a person’s utterance of a sentence according to which she ought to ϕ conveys two things: the sentence expresses, in virtue of its conventional meaning, the belief that she ought to ϕ, and her utterance carries a generalized conversational implicature to the effect that she is motivated to ϕ. This view also makes it possible to defend cognitivism against a well-known internalist argument

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Author's Profile

Caj Strandberg
University of Oslo

References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.John Rogers Searle - 1969 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Moral Realism: A Defence.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
The Language of Morals.Richard Mervyn Hare - 1952 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work

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.
Hybrid Accounts of Ethical Thought and Talk.Teemu Toppinen - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 243-259.

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