Motivation, depression, and character

Iain Law

in Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238033
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754562 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Motivation, depression, and character

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It has been noted by philosophers that depression involves not being motivated to act virtuously. Some, for example, Michael Smith, assert that since depression involves a split between cognitive appraisal of one's situation and one's motivation, knowledge cannot motivate, and so virtue cannot be knowledge. In this chapter, I aim to refute the claim that depression provides evidence against virtue being knowledge. Depression does involve altered beliefs as well as altered desires. I provide a cognitivist account of the way in which depression interferes with normal moral motivation. The beliefs of someone with depression will interfere with the normal process of being motivated by their moral beliefs. I thus acknowledge that someone with depression will lack virtue. This should not be understood as moral criticism of the depressed however, since someone may lack virtue without having failed to do anything that morality obliges them to do.

Chapter.  7653 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry ; Clinical Neuroscience

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