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One Thought Too Few: Where De Dicto Moral Motivation is Necessary

posted Jun 25, 2016, 11:55 AM by shalomation   [ updated Apr 16, 2017, 10:49 AM ]

My forthcoming publication in the journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, "One Thought Too Few: Where De Dicto Moral Motivation is Necessary", was also accepted for presentation at the 2016 Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress (RoME) under the name:
"(Mis)Underestimating the Deliberative Role of de dicto Moral Motivation."

I attach a penultimate version below (as well as a handout for my presentation in RoME). Please quote only from the published version, available for free viewing at:  http://rdcu.be/mOUK
Or for download at:


De dicto moral motivation is typically characterized by the agent’s conceiving of her goal in thin normative terms such as to do what is right. I argue that lacking an effective de dicto moral motivation (at least in a certain broad sense of this term) would put the agent in a bad position for responding in the morally-best manner (relative to her epistemic state) in a certain type of situations. Two central features of the relevant type of situations are (1) the appropriateness of the agent’s uncertainty concerning her underived moral values, and (2) the practical, moral importance of resolving this uncertainty. I argue that in some situations that are marked by these two features the most virtuous response is deciding to conduct a deep moral inquiry for a de dicto moral purpose. In such situations lacking de dicto moral motivation would amount to a moral shortcoming. I show the implications for Michael Smith’s (1994) argument against Motivational Judgment Externalism and for Brian Weatherson’s (2014) argument against avoiding moral recklessness: both arguments rely on a depreciating view of de dicto moral motivation, and both fail; or so I argue.

Aug 11, 2016, 2:55 PM
Aug 11, 2016, 2:56 PM