The Nature of Motives

Steven Sverdlik

in Motive and Rightness

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594948
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725401 | DOI:
The Nature of Motives

Show Summary Details


The nature of motives is investigated. The formal definition that is defended is this: the motive of an action is the ultimate desire of the agent that explains its occurrence, or some feature of it. Motives are certain desires, and to cite the motive for performing an action is to explain that action in a distinctive way. The difference between ultimate and derived desires is elucidated via the notion of the practical syllogism. The relation between desires and normative beliefs is clarified, especially the belief that the agent has a normative reason for action. Rational agents tend to desire to do what they believe it is desirable to do (that is, what they believe they have a normative reason for doing). The relation between motive and intention is explained, as is the relation between motive and action. The examples presented in the previous chapter indeed highlight certain motives.

Keywords: motive; human action; intention; normative belief; practical syllogism; reason for action; normative reason; desirability; desires

Chapter.  11229 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.