The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 15–34 | Cite as

Internalism and Hyperexternalism About Reasons

  • Joshua Gert


Alan Goldman’s Reasons from Within is one of the most thorough recent defenses of what might be called ‘orthodox internalism’ about practical reasons. Goldman’s main target is an opposing view that includes a commitment to the following two theses: (O) that there are such things as objective values, and (E) that these values give rise to external reasons. One version of this view, which we can call ‘orthodox externalism’, also includes a commitment to the thesis (I) that rational people will be motivated by any reason they have of which they are aware. Goldman himself embraces (I), and deploys it frequently in his criticisms of orthodox externalism. But there is logical space for an externalist view that includes a commitment to (O) and (E), but that denies (I). The resulting “hyperexternalist” view holds that some reasons need not motivate us, even if we are rational. In this paper I argue that Goldman’s criticisms of orthodox externalism leave hyperexternalism untouched, and that his specific criticisms of my own version of hyperexternalism do not work. In light of Goldman’s criticisms of orthodox externalism and my own criticisms of Goldman’s view, hyperexternalism emerges as the favored option.


Externalism Internalism Morality Rationality Reasons 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe College of William and MaryWilliamsburgUSA

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