Philosophical Studies

, Volume 144, Issue 2, pp 189–209 | Cite as

Moral judgment purposivism: saving internalism from amoralism



Consider orthodox motivational judgment internalism: necessarily, A’s sincere moral judgment that he or she ought to φ motivates A to φ. Such principles fail because they cannot accommodate the amoralist, or one who renders moral judgments without any corresponding motivation. The orthodox alternative, externalism, posits only contingent relations between moral judgment and motivation. In response I first revive conceptual internalism by offering some modifications on the amoralist case to show that certain community-wide motivational failures are not conceptually possible. Second, I introduce a theory of moral motivation that supplements the intuitive responses to different amoralist cases. According to moral judgment purposivism (MJP), in rough approximation, a purpose of moral judgments is to motivate corresponding behaviors such that a mental state without this purpose is not a moral judgment. MJP is consistent with conceptual desiderata, provides an illuminating analysis of amoralist cases, and offers a step forward in the internalist-externalist debates.


Internalism Externalism Evolutionary ethics Amoralism Cognitivism Expressivism Noncognitivism Proper function 



I thank David Schmidtz and Mark Timmons for comments on an early draft of the paper. I also thank an anonymous reviewer for extensive and helpful comments on the submitted manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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