The Negative Argument

Shelly Kagan

in The Limits of Morality

Published in print April 1991 | ISBN: 9780198239161
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597848 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

 The Negative Argument

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There are two distinct ways of elaborating the thought that only moral systems with options adequately reflect the nature of the personal point of view. This chapter evaluates the first of these – the negative argument – which holds that a general requirement to promote the overall good will inevitably lack the motivational underpinning necessary for genuine moral requirements; options are thus a concession to the nature of persons. Examination of an analogous argument with regard to the requirements of prudence reveals the potential significance of vivid belief in providing motivation. Reason is then given for thinking that despite the bias in favour of one's own interests, people are, in principle, capable of being moved to promote the overall good.

Keywords: internalism; motivation; options; point of view; prudence; vivid belief

Chapter.  25561 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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