Moral Judgements and Motivation: How Do They Relate?

Topics: Morality, Ethics, Internalism and externalism Pages: 56 (19252 words) Published: March 6, 2013
Master thesis Philosophy of Behavioural Sciences

Moral Judgements and motivation: how do they relate?

Claudia Jansen

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Jan Bransen Drs. Dorothee Horstkötter

The most important thing about the practice of focus is that it cannot be forced. Trying hard to concentrate, doesn’t work. It produces frustration, tiredness, and narrowness of vision. Focus follows interest, and interest does not need coercion. A gentle hand on the steering wheel of attention will suffice -Timothy Gallwey -



Preface Introduction 1. An initial acquaintance with the debate 2. The motivation debate 2.1. Existence internalism 2.2. Internalism versus externalism about reasons 2.3. Motivational judgment internalism - motivational externalism 3. Moral judgements: making a distinction between ‘X is right’ and ‘I ought to do X’ 3.1. The amoralist’s judgement 3.2. The logical relationship between the two types of judgement 3.3. A plurality of amoralists 3.4. The moral judgement ‘I ought to do X’ 3.4.1. First-person moral requirements 3.4.2. Moral agents and personal imperatives 3.4.3. Amoralists and personal imperatives 3.4.3 a The rational amoralist: lacking a personal imperative 3.4.3 b The depressed agent: subjected to a personal imperative 4. Failing or succeeding in making a moral judgement? 4.1. Insincere moral statements 4.2. Hare’s inverted comma judgement 4.3. Smith cognitive internalist account of moral judgements 4.4. Facing a problem 4.5. Insufficient mastery of moral concepts 4.6. A moral version of Moore’s paradox 4.7. A helpful tool In Closing References

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I have written a master thesis within the fields of meta-ethics and moral psychology. It is a fact. Until for about one and a half year ago, I had no idea what these terms represent and it was not until quite recently that I got a good impression of what these words refer to. I gradually became to understand that these terms reflect boxes that welcome my ‘abnormal’ thoughts. This was not the only pleasant finding. I also discovered that there are so many interesting and important ideas in those boxes. I hope to investigate them after a short break. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported me during the process of writing my thesis. I am especially grateful to Marije van der Meij, Caj Strandberg, Dorothee Horstkötter en Jan Bransen. Marije’s attentive listening helped me a lot. I would like to thank Caj for his helpful advice and Dorothee for offering me constructive questions and remarks. Special thanks go to Jan. He has been a great supervisor to me. I appreciate his wide variety of efforts, particularly his willingness to answer all my e-mails. I could develop myself so much, because I had the fortune to study in a very good learning environment for which Jan is highly responsible. Finally, my thanks go to the Professor who is willing to serve as a second examiner.

Claudia Jansen Nijmegen, June 2008



Many moral philosophers have been entangled for decades in a discussion about the question whether or not it is essential to moral judgments that they motivate. Those who defend motivational judgment internalism claim this is the case, motivational externalists deny that moral judgments have motivational force built into them. According to externalists the connection between moral judgements and motivation is contingent. In general the claim is that moral judgements motivate just in case there is a desire that helps to bring about the motivation. The motivational judgement internalism-motivational externalism discussion in certain ways gives the impression to be similar to a family quarrel. At first, there is an important dividing line between the two parties. It is ‘we against them’. Besides this, there is much fuss, but about what exactly? Internalists and externalists enthusiastically...
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