Book Chapter

Why Internalists about Reasons should be Humeans about Motivation



Hurtig K (2009) Why Internalists about Reasons should be Humeans about Motivation. In: Hume on Motivation and Virtue. Philosophers in Depth. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 179-185.

In ‘Internal and External Reasons’ Bernard Williams suggests that internalism about reasons is compatible with the idea that beliefs can motivate; that is, that internalism is compatible with cognitivism about motivation. However, contrary to Williams’ suggestion, I will argue that internalists about reasons are in fact committed to Humeanism about motivation; that is, that internalists about reasons cannot allow that beliefs can motivate in their own right. Since I believe that Humeanism about motivation is false, I think internalism about reasons implies something false, and that therefore internalism about reasons should be rejected. In this essay I shall say nothing about why I think Humeanism is false; rather, my aim will be to establish that internalism about reasons is compatible only with (or makes sense only on) a Humean theory of motivation. To do this, I will try to show that cognitive motivational internalism (CMI) is, at best, an unstable position.

motivational state; reason statement; normative belief; motivational dimension; humean theory

Title of seriesPhilosophers in Depth
Publication date31/12/2009

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Dr Kent Hurtig
Dr Kent Hurtig

Lecturer, Philosophy