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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16813

Title: Belief Internalism
Authors: Bromwich, Danielle Nicole
Advisor: Tenenbaum, Sergio
Department: Philosophy
Keywords: Belief
Motivational Internalism
Humean Theory of Motivation
Issue Date: 20-Jan-2009
Abstract: I defend a version of cognitivist motivational internalism which I call belief internalism. The constitutive claim of any version of cognitivist motivational internalism is that moral belief entails motivation. But, while this internalist thesis captures the practical nature of morality, it is in tension with the dominantly held Humean theory of motivation. The constitutive claim of the Humean thesis is that no belief could entail motivation. In defence of this internalist it is tempting to argue either that the Humean constraint only applies to non-moral beliefs or that moral beliefs only motivate ceteris paribus. But, while succumbing to the first temptation places one under an ultimately insurmountable burden to justify the motivational exceptionality of moral beliefs, succumbing to the second temptation saddles one with a thesis that fails to do justice to the practical nature of morality. I avoid the temptation to defend this thesis in either of these flawed ways by defending a more radical departure from the Humean theory of motivation. I avoid the first temptation by arguing for a motivationally efficacious conception of belief. I start the defence by demonstrating that it is conceptually coherent for belief to entail motivation. I then argue that all beliefs have behavioural dispositional properties that are not predicated on desire; in particular, all beliefs can motivate assent without the assistance of a conceptually independent desire. I then develop a unified and inclusive account of cognitive motivation, according to which unqualified normative cognition—which includes moral cognition—motivates normative actions without the assistance of such a desire. Beliefs of the form ‘I ought to ф’, in other words, motivate the believer to ф. I avoid the second temptation by arguing that moral belief motivates simpliciter as opposed to ceteris paribus. There are, however, both commonsense and scientifically informed counterexamples which prima facie demonstrate that it is possible to both fully believe and fully understand one’s first person cognitive moral judgement and yet not motivated by that judgement. I argue that the commonsense prima facie counterexamples are not decisive; and I argue that the scientifically informed prima facie counterexamples misinterpret the empirical research on salient psychological conditions.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16813
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Philosophy - Doctoral theses

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