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Smith’s practicality requirement meets dual-process models of moral judgment

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In The Moral Problem, Michael Smith argues that only motivational internalists can offer an adequate explanation of why changes in moral judgment tend to be accompanied by changes in motivation in morally virtuous people. Smith argues that the failure of motivational externalism to account for this phenomenon amounts to a reductio of the view. In this paper, I draw on dual-process models of moral judgment to develop an externalist response to Smith’s argument. The key to my proposal is that motivationally efficacious states are often the source of our moral judgments, and changes in judgment are typically the result of changes in these states. However, moral judgments can also be formed via an alternative pathway that does not necessarily affect motivation, and so motivation and judgment can come apart. This response not only defuses Smith’s objections to externalism, but challenges Smith to square his internalist proposal with the empirical details of moral judgment.
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Keywords: Dual-process moral psychology; Michael Smith; moral motivation; moral reasoning; motivational externalism; motivational internalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA

Publication date: 17 November 2017

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