Philosophical Papers 47 (2):199-233 (2018)

Christos Douskos
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
A central point of contention in the ongoing debate between Humean and anti-Humean accounts of moral motivation concerns the theoretical credentials of the idea of mental states that are cognitive and motivational at the same time. Humeans claim that this idea is incoherent and thereby unintelligible (M. Smith, The Moral Problem, Blackwell 1994). I start by developing a linguistic argument against this claim. The semantics of certain ‘learning to’ and ‘knowing to’ ascriptions points to a dispositional state that has both motivational and cognitive properties: habitual knowledge, as we may call it. But there is nothing unintelligible or incoherent about such ascriptions as they figure in the explanation and assessment of action. This suggests that the idea of a state that has both cognitive and motivational properties is not an artefact of philosophical speculation. Moreover, I suggest that action explanations that appeal to habitual knowledge, which are a variety of habit explanation, present distinctive problems for Humean accounts. The discussion bears on the relationship between habitual knowledge and knowing-how, and its possible significance for anti-Humean accounts of moral motivation.
Keywords moral motivation   habit   knowledge ascriptions   directions of fit
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DOI 10.1080/05568641.2017.1422989
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References found in this work BETA

Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Virtue and Reason.John McDowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.
Dispositions and Habituals.Michael Fara - 2005 - Noûs 39 (1):43–82.

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The Varieties of Agential Powers.Christos Douskos - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (4):982-1001.

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