Moral internalism and moral cognitivism in Hume’s metaethics

Synthese 152 (3):353 - 370 (2006)
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Abstract

Most naturalists think that the belief/desire model from Hume is the best framework for making sense of motivation. As Smith has argued, given that the cognitive state (belief) and the conative state (desire) are separate on this model, if a moral judgment is cognitive, it could not also be motivating by itself. So, it looks as though Hume and Humeans cannot hold that moral judgments are states of belief (moral cognitivism) and internally motivating (moral internalism). My chief claim is that the details of Hume’s naturalistic philosophy of mind actually allow for a conjunction of these allegedly incompatible views. This thesis is significant, since readers typically have thought that Hume’s view that motivation is not produced by representations, coupled with his view that moral judgments motivate on their own, imply that moral judgments could never take the form of beliefs about, or representations of, the moral (virtue and vice).

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Citations of this work

Meekness and 'Moral' Anger.Glen Pettigrove - 2012 - Ethics 122 (2):341-370.
The simple duality: Humean passions.Hsueh Qu - 2012 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 42 (S1):98-116.
Intuition and Belief in Moral Motivation.Antti Kauppinen - 2015 - In Gunnar Björnsson (ed.), Moral Internalism. Oxford University Press.
Moral motivation pluralism.Ragnar Francén - 2010 - The Journal of Ethics 14 (2):117-148.

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References found in this work

The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Ruling Passions: A Theory of Practical Reasoning.Simon Blackburn - 1998 - New York: Oxford University Press UK.
Internal and External Reasons.Bernard Williams - 1979 - In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational action: studies in philosophy and social science. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 101-113.
Impartial reason.Stephen L. Darwall - 1983 - Ithaca N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
Cognition and commitment in Hume's philosophy.Don Garrett - 1997 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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