Review of Motivational Internalism. Edited By Gunnar Björnsson, Caj Strandberg, Ragnar Francén Olinder, John Eriksson, and Fredrik Björklund. (Oxford: OUP, 2015. Pp. viii + 306. Price £41.99.)

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Moral thinking has two central features. Our judgements appear to be more or less accurate and they also seem action-guiding. This collection of new articles focuses on one of the most important metaethical debates about the second, practical aspect of moral thought.

This debate has come to be known as the judgement internalism debate. At its heart is the question of how we should explain the process through which our moral judgements lead us to act. Imagine that Laura comes to learn about the climate change and as a consequence judges that it would be wrong for her to emit greenhouse gases. After this judgement, we would expect Laura to have at least some motivation to avoid making additional emissions. The question is: why would Laura have such motivation?

According to internalists, Laura acquires the new desire not to emit because there is an internal connection between moral judgements and motivation. Either moral judgements themselves are desire-like attitudes (i.e., states of motivatedness) or they have a direct power to produce desires in people at least insofar as they are rational. On these views, motivation thus has to follow from the judgement, which explains Laura's new desire. In contrast, according to the externalists, Laura's moral judgement will lead to a desire not to emit only if she, for instance, has a distinct standing desire to acquire desires to do what she thinks is right. Whether Laura has this desire is a contingent fact …


Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Early online date27 Aug 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2015


  • Metaethics, Moral Psychology