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Durham e-Theses
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How moral knowledge motivates: a practical reason account

PROCTOR, DUNCAN,EDWARD (2010) How moral knowledge motivates: a practical reason account. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (How moral knowledge motivates) - Accepted Version


When we make moral judgements and act morally we recognise and respond to reasons that are there whether we recognise them or not. This is the claim defended in this thesis. It has two aspects. The first is that acts of moral judgement aspire, sometimes successfully, to moral knowledge. This is moral cognitivism. The second is that moral truths report reasons for action. In responding appropriately to these reasons we are motivated to action. This is the practicality of morality. Hence, it is claimed, there is a
moral reality that we respond to in both cognition and action. Adopting a practical reason approach, I argue that the objectivity and practicality of morality are not in
conflict, but are linked by the idea of a practical reason. The moral truths that we can have knowledge of are the truths about the reasons for action that morality provides. I argue for this claim by showing why we should reject Humean ways of thinking about motivation and practical reason and embrace a broadly Kantian account. I argue that this account is compatible with seeing moral reasons as contributory rather than decisive or overriding. I also show how this account enables moral cognitivists to respond
convincingly to arguments advanced by non-cognitivists.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:moral reasons motivation knowledge cognitivism Hume Kant practical rationality normativity ethics internalism metaethics judgement categorical imperative scepticism belief desire psychology
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:21 Mar 2011 10:07

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