Chapter VI is an extended sketch of Plato 's psychological theory found in the Republic, especially Book IV. Plato, unlike Socrates, distinguishes among three kinds of desire, corresponding to the three parts of the soul. Plato, however, still agrees with Socrates that all desires are belief-dependent. Furthermore, because Plato is much clearer than Socrates about the nature of goods, he is able to distinguish among three distinct kinds of beliefs about what is good. So Plato also agrees with Socrates that (...) all desires are for the good, if we speak properly of what is believed to be good. The picture of Plato 's views that emerges in this study is a fundamentally Socratic one and a development of Socratic psychology. This picture is somewhat contrary to what recent commentators have claimed about how the positions of Socrates and Plato are related. Plato, it is said, rejects the Socratic proposal about desire and its role in human motivation. It is argued in this study, however, that such a view rests upon certain misconceptions of both the Socratic and Platonic positions. ;This study has the following structure. Chapter I discusses the methodology of this dissertation and the chronology of Plato 's dialogues. Chapters II-V develop the central features of Socratic psychology. In chapter II, we establish that virtue is a craft. This is particularly important because, unlike other Socratic crafts which are merely cognitive, virtue has affective characteristics also. Virtue, moreover, aims at producing goods. Chapter III examines the nature of Socratic desire. We argue by examining both linguistic evidence and texts where there is some suggestion to the contrary that Socrates does not distinguish among kinds of desire. It is also shown that desire has two key features for Socrates. All desire is belief-dependent and, in particular, involves beliefs about what is good. Because of these features, chapter IV is concerned with the Socratic analysis of the structure of goods. We find in such dialogues as the Lysis, Euthydemus, Gorgias, and Meno a record of some confusion about the nature of goods. Finally in chapter V, we show how Socrates applies his account of desire to problems in philosophical psychology. He holds that knowledge is necessary and sufficient, not only to achieve a certain psychological state, but also for certain kinds of action. He provides an alternative explanation for what is commonly held to be weakness of will. There are also suggestions which we explore that Socrates has original views, deriving from his account of desire, about the nature of action and psychological freedom. ;Both Socrates and Plato attempt to demonstrate that moral behavior is rational, by grounding it in the structure of human wants. This study examines the accounts of desire to which they appeal and shows how desire so conceived is related both to human rationality and to human motivation. Much of what is said here bears upon ethical questions, but our principal concern is not ethics, but moral psychology--the psychological underpinnings for the Socratic and Platonic ethical views. (shrink)
What place does motivation have in the lives of intelligent agents? Mele's answer is sensitive to the concerns of philosophers of mind and moral philosophers and informed by empirical work. He offers a distinctive, comprehensive, attractive view of human agency. This book stands boldly at the intersection of philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, and metaphysics.
Recent work in moral philosophy has emphasized the foundational role played by interpersonal accountability in the analysis of moral concepts such as moral right and wrong, moral obligation and duty, blameworthiness, and moral responsibility (Darwall 2006; 2013a; 2013b). Extending this framework to the field of moral psychology, we hypothesize that our moral attitudes, emotions, and motives are also best understood as based in accountability. Drawing on a large body of empirical evidence, we argue that the implicit aim of the central (...) moral motives and emotions is to hold people - whether oneself or others - accountable for compliance with the demands of morality. Moral condemnation is based in a motive to get perpetrators to hold themselves accountable for their wrongdoing, not, as is commonly supposed, a mere retributive motive to make perpetrators suffer (�2). And moral conscience is based in a genuine motive to hold oneself accountable for behaving in accordance with moral demands, not, as is commonly supposed, a mere egoistic motive to appear moral to others (�3). The accountability-based theory of the moral motives and emotions we offer provides better explanations of the extant empirical data than any of the major alternative theories of moral motivation. Moreover, conceiving of moral psychology in this way gives us a new and illuminating perspective on what makes morality distinctive: its essential connection to our practice of holding one another accountable (�4). (shrink)
Why are people interested in money? Specifically, what could be the biological basis for the extraordinary incentive and reinforcing power of money, which seems to be unique to the human species? We identify two ways in which a commodity which is of no biological significance in itself can become a strong motivator. The first is if it is used as a tool, and by a metaphorical extension this is often applied to money: it is used instrumentally, in order to obtain (...) biologically relevant incentives. Second, substances can be strong motivators because they imitate the action of natural incentives but do not produce the fitness gains for which those incentives are instinctively sought. The classic examples of this process are psychoactive drugs, but we argue that the drug concept can also be extended metaphorically to provide an account of money motivation. From a review of theoretical and empirical literature about money, we conclude that (i) there are a number of phenomena that cannot be accounted for by a pure Tool Theory of money motivation; (ii) supplementing Tool Theory with a Drug Theory enables the anomalous phenomena to be explained; and (iii) the human instincts that, according to a Drug Theory, money parasitizes include trading (derived from reciprocal altruism) and object play. (Published Online April 5 2006) Key Words: economic behaviour; evolutionary psychology; giving; incentive; money; motivation; play; reciprocal altruism. (shrink)
Near the beginning of Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche writes that “psychology is once again the path to the fundamental problems” (BGE 23). This raises a number of questions. What are these “fundamental problems” that psychology helps us to answer? How exactly does psychology bear on philosophy? In this conference paper, I provide a partial answer to these questions by focusing upon the way in which psychology informs Nietzsche’s account of value. I argue that Nietzsche’s ethical theory is based upon (...) the idea that power has a privileged normative status: power is the one value in terms of which all others values are to be assessed. If this is the correct interpretation of Nietzsche’s ethical theory, though, it raises a question: how could power have a privileged status, given that Nietzsche denies that there are any objective facts about what is valuable? I argue that Nietzsche’s account of psychology provides the answer: he grounds power’s privileged status in facts about the nature of human motivation. In particular, Nietzsche’s account of drives entails that human beings are ineluctably committed to valuing power. So Nietzsche’s ethical theory follows from his philosophical psychology. (shrink)
The Moral Psychology Handbook is a contribution to a relatively new genre of philosophical writing, the “handbook.” In the first section, I comment on an expectation about handbooks, namely that handbooks contain works representative of a field, and raise concerns about The Moral Psychology Handbook in this regard. In the rest of the article I comment in detail on two Handbook articles, “Moral Motivation” by Timothy Schroeder, Adina Roskies, and Shaun Nichols, and “Character” by Maria W. Merritt, John M. (...) Doris, and Gilbert Harman. Both articles illustrate the perils as well as the promise of reliance on empirical studies for philosophers who work in moral psychology. (shrink)
We accomplish three things in this paper. First, we provide evidence that the motivational internalism/externalism debate in moral psychology could be a false dichotomy born of ambiguity. Second, we provide further evidence for a crucial distinction between two different categories of belief in folk psychology: thick belief and thin belief. Third, we demonstrate how careful attention to deep features of folk psychology can help diagnose and defuse seemingly intractable philosophical disagreement in metaethics.
Collection of original essays on the theory of desire by Robert Audi, Annette Baier, Wayne Davis, Ronald de Sousa, Robert Gordon, O.H. Green, Joel Marks, Dennis Stampe, Mitchell Staude, Michael Stocker, and C.C.W. Taylor.
A developing neurobiological/psychological theory of positive motivation gives a key causal role to reward events in the brain which can be directly activated by electrical stimulation (ESB). In its strongest form, this Reward Event Theory (RET) claims that all positive motivation, primary and learned, is functionally dependent on these reward events. Some of the empirical evidence is reviewed which either supports or challenges RET. The paper examines the implications of RET for the concepts of 'motivation', 'desire' and (...) 'reward' or 'pleasure'. It is argued (1) that a 'causal base' as opposed to a functional' concept of motivation has theoretical advantages; (2) that a causal distinction between the focus' and the 'anchor' of desire suggests an ineliminable 'opacity' of desire; and (3) that some affective concept, such as 'pleasure', should play a key role in psychological explanation, distinct from that of motivational (or cognitive) concepts. A concept of 'reward' or 'pleasure' as intrinsically positive affect is defended, and contrasted with the more 'operational' definitions of 'reward' in some of the hypotheses of Roy Wise. (shrink)
I consider an underappreciated problem for proponents of the Humean theory of motivation. Namely, it is unclear whether is it to be understood as a largely psychological or largely metaphysical theory. I show that the psychological interpretation of HTM will need to be modified in order to be a tenable view and, as it will turn out, the modifications required render it virtually philosophically empty. I then argue that the largely metaphysical interpretation is the only a plausible interpretation of (...) HTM's central claim that desires are necessary conditions for motivation. This interpretation also fits better with the important roles that HTM plays in both moral psychological and metaethical debates. (shrink)
Among the characteristic features of depression is a diminishment in or lack of action and motivation. In this paper, I consider a dominant philosophical account which purports to explain this lack of action or motivation. This approach comes in different versions but a common theme is, I argue, an over reliance on psychologistic assumptions about action–explanation and the nature of motivation. As a corrective I consider an alternative view that gives a prominent place to the body in (...)motivation. Central to the experience of depression are changes to how a person is motivated to act and, also as central, are changes to bodily feelings and capacities. I argue that broadly characterizing motivation in terms of bodily capacities can, in particular, provide a more compelling account of depressive motivational pathology. (shrink)
Hume is widely regarded as the grandfather of emotivism and indeed of non-cognitivism in general. For the chief argument for emotivism - the Argument from Motivation - is derived from him. In my opinion Hume was not an emotivist or proto-emotivist but a moral realist in the modern ‘response-dependent’ style. But my interest in this paper is not the historical Hume but the Hume of legend since the legendary Hume is one of the most influential philosophers of the present (...) age. According to Michael Smith ‘the Moral Problem’ – the central issue in meta-ethics - is that the premises of Hume’s argument appear to be true though the non-cognitivist conclusion appears to be false. Since the argument seems to be valid, something has got to give. Smith struggles to solve the problem by holding on to something like the premises of the argument whilst trying to fend off the conclusion. In my view this is a wasted effort. Hume was not arguing for non-cognitivsm in the first place, and the arguments for non-cognitivism that can be extracted from his writings are no good. Either the premises are false or the inferences are invalid. And this is despite the fact that Hume was substantially right about reason and the passions. Thus ‘the Moral Problem’ is not a problem, and the legendary Hume does not deserve his influence. -/- An important theme in this paper is the concept of a DTAD or a dispositions to acquire desires. These play an important role in motivation but unlike desires (with which they are sometimes confused ) they are NOT propositional attitudes. (shrink)
Increasingly, empirically minded moral philosophers are using data from cognitive science and neuroscience to resolve some longstanding philosophical questions about moral motivation, such as whether moral beliefs require the presence of a desire to motivate. These empirical approaches are implicitly committed to the existence of folk psychological mental states like beliefs and desires. However, data from the neuroscience of decision-making, particularly cellular-level work in neuroeconomics, is now converging with data from cognitive and social neuroscience to explain the processes through (...) which agents are moved to act on the basis of decisions, including decisions about social and moral norms. I argue that these developments are beginning to cast doubt on the prospect of finding nontrivial physical 'realizers' for the FP states invoked in the Humeanism dispute by posing two distinctive challenges that tend to work against each other: belief-desire directionality and causal relevance. (shrink)
This book contains new essays in honor of Melvin J. Lerner, a pioneer in the psychological study of justice. The contributors to this volume are internationally renowned scholars from psychology, business, and law. They examine the role of justice motivation in a wide variety of contexts, including workplace violence, affirmative action programs, helping or harming innocent victims and how people react to their own fate. Contributors explore fundamental issues such as whether people's interest in justice is motivated by self-interest (...) or a genuine concern for the welfare of others, when and why people feel a need to punish transgressors, how a concern for justice emerges during the development of societies and individuals, and the relation of justice motivation to moral motivation. How an understanding of justice motivation can contribute to the amelioration of major social problems is also examined. (shrink)
Which of the two dominant arguments for duties to alleviate global poverty, supposing their premises were generally accepted, would be more likely to produce their desired outcome? I take Pogge's argument for obligations grounded in principles of justice, a "contribution" argument, and Campbell's argument for obligations grounded in principles of humanity, an "assistance" argument, to be prototypical. Were people to accept the premises of Campbell's argument, how likely would they be to support governmental reform in policies for international aid, or (...) to make individual contributions to international aid organizations? And I ask the same question, mutatis mutandis, for Pogge's argument. (shrink)
A broad range of evidence regarding the functional organization of the vertebrate brain – spanning from comparative neurology to experimental psychology and neurophysiology to clinical data – is reviewed for its bearing on conceptions of the neural organization of consciousness. A novel principle relating target selection, action selection, and motivation to one another, as a means to optimize integration for action in real time, is introduced. With its help, the principal macrosystems of the vertebrate brain can be seen to (...) form a centralized functional design in which an upper brain stem system organized for conscious function performs a penultimate step in action control. This upper brain stem system retained a key role throughout the evolutionary process by which an expanding forebrain – culminating in the cerebral cortex of mammals – came to serve as a medium for the elaboration of conscious contents. This highly conserved upper brainstem system, which extends from the roof of the midbrain to the basal diencephalon, integrates the massively parallel and distributed information capacity of the cerebral hemispheres into the limited-capacity, sequential mode of operation required for coherent behavior. It maintains special connective relations with cortical territories implicated in attentional and conscious functions, but is not rendered nonfunctional in the absence of cortical input. This helps explain the purposive, goal-directed behavior exhibited by mammals after experimental decortication, as well as the evidence that children born without a cortex are conscious. Taken together these circumstances suggest that brainstem mechanisms are integral to the constitution of the conscious state, and that an adequate account of neural mechanisms of conscious function cannot be confined to the thalamocortical complex alone. (Published Online May 1 2007) Key Words: action selection; anencephaly; central decision making; consciousness; control architectures; hydranencephaly; macrosystems; motivation; target selection; zona incerta. (shrink)
Badcock, and Nesse and Lloyd, have argued that there are important points of agreement between Freud's theory of the mind and a theory of mind suggested by adaptive reasoning. Buller, on the other hand, draws attention to the need to avoid confusing an adaptive rationale with an unconscious motivation. The present paper attempts to indicate what role adaptive reasoning might have to play in justifying psychoanalytic claims. First, it is argued that psychoanalytic claims cannot be justified by the clinical (...) experience of psychoanalysts alone. It is urged that, to avoid interpretative proliferation, it is necessary to base interpretation on some theory which is external to psychoanalysis. Next, Buller's reservations about using adaptive reasoning to justify claims about a personal unconscious, are summarized. Then an argument for the existence of a personal unconscious, is offered, based on experimental evidence from Gur and Sackeim. Then it is argued that adaptive reasoning, though it cannot itself provide evidence for the existence of any psychological mechanism, can valuably guide the search for such evidence. It is argued that such an approach has borne fruit, both in biology generally and specifically in psychology. Finally, it is argued that psychoanalysis is important enough to justify such a research project. (shrink)
This essay develops a new conceptual framework of science and engineering ethics education based on virtue ethics and positive psychology. Virtue ethicists and positive psychologists have argued that current rule-based moral philosophy, psychology, and education cannot effectively promote students’ moral motivation for actual moral behavior and may even lead to negative outcomes, such as moral schizophrenia. They have suggested that their own theoretical framework of virtue ethics and positive psychology can contribute to the effective promotion of motivation for (...) self-improvement by connecting the notion of morality and eudaimonic happiness. Thus this essay attempts to apply virtue ethics and positive psychology to science and engineering ethics education and to develop a new conceptual framework for more effective education. In addition to the conceptual-level work, this essay suggests two possible educational methods: moral modeling and involvement in actual moral activity in science and engineering ethics classes, based on the conceptual framework. (shrink)
Saṃvega is a morally motivating state of shock that -- according to Buddhaghosa -- should be evoked by meditating on death. What kind of mental state it is exactly, and how it is morally motivating is unclear, however. This article presents a theory of saṃvega -- what it is and how it works -- based on recent insights in psychology. According to dual process theories there are two kinds of mental processes organized in two" systems" : the experiential, automatic system (...) 1, and the rational, controlled system 2. In normal circumstances, system 1 does not believe in its own mortality. Saṃvega occurs when system 1 suddenly realizes that the "subjective self" will inevitably die (while system 2 is already disposed to affirm the subject's mortality). This results in a state of shock that is morally motivating under certain conditions. Saṃvega increases mortality salience and produces insight in suffering, and in combination with a strengthened sense of loving-kindness or empathic concern both mortality salience and insight in suffering produce moral motivation. (shrink)
To the extent, then, that we set our face against admitting the truth of Humeanism in the theory of motivation, to that extent we are probably going to feel that there is no such thing as the theory of motivation, so conceived, at all. And that will be the position that this paper is trying to defend, though not only for this reason. It might seem miraculous that so much can be extracted from the little distinction with which (...) we started, between the reasons why an action was right and the agent's reasons for doing it. It is not so much the distinction itself which is the culprit, however, as the account of it that sees motivating reasons as complexes of beliefs and desires, i.e. as complexes of psychological states of whatever sort, and sees justifying reasons as truths. It is this account, which puts into form the attempt to combine value realism with Humean philosophical psychology, that leads to the results I have outlined above. (shrink)