Do Moral Beliefs Motivate Action?

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (3):377-395 (2023)
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Do moral beliefs motivate action? To answer this question, extant arguments have considered hypothetical cases of association (dissociation) between agents’ moral beliefs and actions. In this paper, I argue that this approach can be improved by studying people’s actual moral beliefs and actions using empirical research methods. I present three new studies showing that, when the stakes are high, associations between participants’ moral beliefs and actions are actually explained by co-occurring but independent moral emotions. These findings suggest that moral beliefs themselves have little or no motivational force, supporting the Humean picture of moral motivation.

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Rodrigo Díaz
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

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References found in this work

The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
A treatise of human nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 2003 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
Moral realism: a defence.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The possibility of altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford,: Clarendon P..
A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40).David Hume - 1969 - Mineola, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.

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