Motivated Belief and Motivational Explanations

Alfred R. Mele

in Motivation and Agency

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195156171
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833467 | DOI:
 Motivated Belief and Motivational Explanations

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Drawing on work in cognitive and social psychology, this chapter explains the bearing of motivationally biased beliefs on the project of producing an account of motivational explanation. It is argued that the core of ordinary motivational explanations is the following compound feature: motivation‐constituting items make a causal contribution to the explanandum that (1) helps to explain the explanandum at least partly by revealing (sometimes in conjunction with an instrumental belief) an agreeable feature, from the perspective of the agent's desires, either of the explanandum itself or of its object and (2) is of such a kind that our learning of contributions of that kind tends to improve our folk‐psychological understanding – that is, the understanding we have in, roughly, commonsense psychological terms – of why the explanandum came to be.

Keywords: belief; cognitive psychology; desire; folk psychology; motivational explanation; motivationally biased belief; social psychology

Chapter.  6617 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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