Moral Action: Motivation, Normativity, and Autonomous Willing

Katerina Deligiorgi

in The Scope of Autonomy

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646159
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741142 | DOI:
Moral Action: Motivation, Normativity, and Autonomous Willing

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Chapter 3 focuses on moral action and its conditions. It fulfils both a negative and a positive task. The negative task consists in contextualizing the questions of moral psychology, which have tended to dominate discussions of Kantian ethics. Part of this task involves addressing the broader contemporary debate about motivational internalism and externalism. The reason for this is to show why certain justifiable concerns of moral theorists who support internalism are best viewed in the Kantian context as relating not to psychology but to metaphysics. It is argued that the kind of motivation an agent has and the things she counts as reasons have the importance they do because of the metaphysics of free agency Kant holds. The positive task consists in developing a psychologically plausible account of motivational autonomy. This is accomplished in two stages: first by showing the motivational variety Kant allows in his moral psychology and second by developing an interpretation of motivational autonomy in terms of coincidence of normative and motivational reasons. The chapter builds on the preliminary epistemic characterization of the role of pure reason in its practical employment given in the previous chapter by focusing on Kant’s (PPR) thesis: ‘pure reason is of itself alone practical’ (cf. Critique of Practical Reason 6:56). Without the distraction of moral psychology we can appreciate the real anti-Humean import of the thesis that consists in asserting our ability as agents to set ends for ourselves.

Keywords: moral psychology; motivational internalism; motivational externalism; normative reasons; motivational reasons; heteronomy; doxastic relevance; necessitation; Nagel; Michael Smith; Hume

Chapter.  18696 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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