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Action, Ethics, and Responsibility$
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Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke, and Harry S. Silverstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014731

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014731.001.0001

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Moral Judgment and Volitional Incapacity

Moral Judgment and Volitional Incapacity

(p.235) 13 Moral Judgment and Volitional Incapacity
Action, Ethics, and Responsibility

Antti Kauppinen

The MIT Press

This chapter focuses on the various kinds of motivational failure and how they have significant and underappreciated implications for metaethics. The central question in metaethics lies in knowing what it is to think of something as right or wrong, good or bad, and obligatory or forbidden. Generally, people do not engage in behaviors genuinely considered evil, even when they would stand to benefit from it, because sincerely held moral views influence conduct. To an extent, therefore, moral judgments seem to be motivationally effective. If they were merely motivationally effective psychological states such as desires, they could readily and easily be explicated. However, moral judgments do not necessarily lead to corresponding action. In fact, it is conceptually possible to believe that a certain behavior is wrong and still want to engage in it; therefore, thinking that something is wrong does not simply consist in aversion toward it.

Keywords:   motivational failure, metaethics, moral views, moral judgments, psychological states, desires

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