Beliefs and Motivating Reasons

Maria Alvarez

in Kinds of Reasons

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199550005
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720239 | DOI:
Beliefs and Motivating Reasons

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This chapter explores the relation between beliefs and motivating reasons. In it, an unusual interpretation of the claim that motivating reasons are beliefs is defended. On this interpretation, motivating reasons are true beliefs, that is, they are things that we believe that are true—that is to say, they are facts. In short, motivating reasons are facts. The chapter also disarms several objections associated with this view: that it cannot apply in cases where we are motivated to act by a false belief; that beliefs cannot motivate; etc. In particular, it is argued that although false beliefs can motivate, they are not motivating reasons: false beliefs, that is, apparent facts, are only apparent reasons.

An important corollary of the claims about motivating reasons defended in this and the preceding two chapters is that, contrary to what the orthodoxy holds, motivating reasons are not mental states, for they are neither ‘believings’ nor ‘desirings’.

Keywords: beliefs; act/object ambiguity; facts; Dancy; P. F. Strawson; propositions; mental states; motivation

Chapter.  16134 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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