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Scepticism about Moral Motives

  • Anita M. Superson (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2010

Traditionally, the problem of defeating scepticism about the rationality of morality is that of showing that every morally required act is rationally required. Little or no direct attention has been paid to whether we must also show that it is rational for the agent to have and act from the morally appropriate motive, whatever that may be. This is not to say that philosophers have entirely ignored the issue of motives; a fair number—Kant and Aristotle come to mind—are concerned in part with the kind of motive agents ought to have and from which they ought to act. But the link to scepticism has not been clearly made. At issue is whether scepticism is fully defeated if we show that every morally required act is rationally required, even if we leave it possible that a fully rational person who performs the act just “goes through the motions” in doing so.

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Bernard Gert , “Rationality, Human Nature, and Lists,” Ethics, 100, 2 (1991): 279300

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Marcia Baron , “On De-Kantianizing the Perfectly Moral Person,” Journal of Value Inquiry, 17 (1983): 281–93, esp. p. 285.

Annette Baier , “What Do Women Want in a Moral Theory?,” Nous, 19, 1 (March 1985): 5363, esp. p. 57.

Michael Stocker , “The Schizophrenia of Modern Moral Theories,” The Journal of Philosophy, 73, 14 (August 12, 1976): 453–66, esp. pp. 456-57.

Gilbert Harman , “Moral Relativism Defended,” The Philosophical Review, 84, 1 (January 1975): 322.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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