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Moral judgements and motivation: (an 'emotionalist' externalism about the 'reliable connection')

Whiston, A. (2017) Moral judgements and motivation: (an 'emotionalist' externalism about the 'reliable connection'). PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This thesis examines the role of emotions in morality and in particular their relation to moral judgements. Despite the emerging view in philosophy that the long-standing perceived antagonism between reason and emotion is unjustified, metaethical theories are still largely informed by the Cartesian understanding of the mind: if moral judgements are the exercise of a rational capacity they must preclude emotions. One consequence of this view is a distorted view of moral agents' capacity for motivated, emotion-elicited, moral knowledge and action. The account of emotion I develop here aims to do justice to their epistemic as well as motivating role. Moral motivation has been commonly understood with reference to Humean psychology: motivation is analysed either in terms of desire-like states, where emotions are not sufficiently distinguished from desires, or in terms of beliefs, where emotions either have no explanatory significance or, if they do, they are identified with intuitions or a kind of evaluative judgement. This thesis defends the view that the emotions are irreducible to either desires or beliefs, where this requires challenging the Humean-Davidsonian theory of mind and action explanation. Thus a promise of this thesis is to offer a positive contribution by providing a motivational analysis which looks beyond the Humean-Davidsonian belief-desire model. A standard objection to externalist metaethical theories which claim that motivation is 'external' to moral judgements is that they are committed to an implausible explanation of the reliable connection between good-willed agents' moral judgements and their motivations. The account of emotion this thesis develops helps build a novel, non-Humean, externalism about the 'reliable connection'. I argue that although emotions are not necessary for moral judgements, the 'reliable connection' is partly explained by emotional moral efforts.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Stratton-Lake, P., De Gaynesford, M. and Streumer, B.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Philosophy
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:75151
Date on Title Page:2015

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