Intuition and Belief in Moral Motivation

In Gunnar Björnsson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder, John Eriksson & Fredrik Björklund (eds.), Motivational Internalism. New York: Oxford University Press (2015)
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It seems to many that moral opinions must make a difference to what we’re motivated to do, at least in suitable conditions. For others, it seems that it is possible to have genuine moral opinions that make no motivational difference. Both sides – internalists and externalists about moral motivation – can tell persuasive stories of actual and hypothetical cases. My proposal for a kind of reconciliation is to distinguish between two kinds of psychological states with moral content. There are both moral thoughts or opinions that intrinsically motivate, and moral thoughts or opinions that don’t. The thoughts that intrinsically motivate are moral intuitions – spontaneous and compelling non-doxastic appearances of right or wrong that both attract assent and incline us to act or react. I argue that there is good reason to think that these intuitions, but not moral judgments, are constituted by manifestations of moral sentiments. The moral thoughts that do not intrinsically motivate are moral beliefs, which are in themselves as inert as any ordinary beliefs. Thus, roughly, internalism is true about intuitions and externalism is true about beliefs or judgments.



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Antti Kauppinen
University of Helsinki

Citations of this work

The Ethics of Attention: Engaging the Real with Iris Murdoch and Simone Weil.Silvia Caprioglio Panizza - 2022 - New York, NY, USA: Routledge Studies in Ethics and Moral Theory.
In the Thick of Moral Motivation.Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (2):433-453.
Moral Sentimentalism.Antti Kauppinen - 2002 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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A virtue epistemology.Ernest Sosa - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The emotional construction of morals.Jesse J. Prinz - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ethical Intuitionism.Michael Huemer - 2005 - New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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