Remaining Questions

Steven Sverdlik

in Motive and Rightness

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594948
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725401 | DOI:
Remaining Questions

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Seven questions were posed at the end of Chapter 1. Four of them have been answered. Extrinsic consequentialism has emerged as the most plausible approach to the deontic relevance of motives. It is employed in addressing the remaining questions. These center on the issue of whether there are, or could be, obligation‐making motives. Ross argued, by appealing to the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can,’ that there could not be an obligation‐making motive. It is contended that Ross himself showed that there is a viable conception of an obligation‐making motive that does not violate this dictum. If motives are a sort of desire, it seems that obligation‐making motives violate Kant's implicit claim that a hypothetical moral imperative is self‐contradictory. The extrinsic consequentialist asserts that, suitably defined, there are obligation‐making motives. Two examples are presented. The practical advice an extrinsic consequentialist would give about acting on bad motives like malice is presented.

Keywords: Kant; W. D. Ross; hypothetical imperative; ought implies can; moral obligation; malice; motives; consequentialism; desires

Chapter.  7422 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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