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Moral Judgement and Moral Motivation

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Abstract:

I criticize an important argument of Michael Smith, from his recent book The Moral Problem (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). Smith’s argument, if sound, would undermine one form of moral externalism – that which insists that moral judgements only contingently motivate their authors. Smith claims that externalists must view good agents as always prompted by the motive of duty, and that possession of such a motive impugns the goodness of the agent. I argue (i) that externalists do not (ordinarily) need to assign moral agents such as a motive, and (ii) that possession of this motive, when properly understood, is morally admirable.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9213.00105

Affiliations: University of California at Santa Barbara

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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