, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 183-231

Internalism and the Origin of Rational Motivation

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What makes a subject's motivationrational is its originating in her practicalreasoning. I explain the appeal of this thesisabout rational motivation, and explore itsrelation to recent discussions of internalismabout reasons for action. I do so in theservice of clarifying an important meta-ethicaldebate between Humean motivational skeptics andtheir Kantian opponents. This debate is oneover whether, as this skeptic contends andKantians deny, considerations about ourmotivational capacities, together withinternalism, restrict genuine reasons foraction to merely instrumental ones. I arguethat properly adjudicating this debate requiresidentifying one particular way in which thethesis about rational motivation has beendeveloped – namely, as a part of what I term``the traditional conception'' of themotivational efficacy of practical reason. Onthis conception, rational motivation consistsin choosing some course of conduct out of one'scognitive appreciation of the way its relationto one's practicable good gives one reason todo so. And I side with Kantians against theHumean motivational skeptic in part on groundsthat Kant himself – though not all Kantians –would find congenial: namely, that we shouldaccept the traditional conception.