, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 59-79

Moral coherence, moral worth and explanations of moral motivation

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Abstract

Moral internalism and moral externalism compete over the best explanation of the link between judgment and relevant motivation but, it is argued, they differ at best only verbally. The internalist rational-conceptual nature of the link’ as accounted by M. Smith in The Moral Problem is contrasted to the externalist, also rational, link that requires in addition support from the agent’s psychological-dispositional profile; the internalist link, however, is found to depend crucially on a, similarly to the externalist, psychologically ‘loaded’ profile. It is also argued that the differentiation of the two competing explanations is insufficient partly because they both fail to consider crucial quantitative parameters of the judgment-motivation link. Such parameters become very important particularly in the light of Smith’s claim that this link is grounded on the observable “striking fact” where changes in the set of one’s moral beliefs systematically bring about changes in one’s moral behavior. Examples of algorithms measuring moral coherence and moral worth are provided to serve as evidence for what it comes down to, vis-à-vis the alleged fact, only a verbal dispute between the two camps. Finally, the ‘misfiring’ of these explanations is understood in connection to the irreducibility of concepts such as ‘moral worth’, and/or, ‘moral sensitivity’.