De Dicto Moral Desires and the Moral Sentiments: Adam Smith on the Role of De Dicto Moral Desires in the Virtuous Agent

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Abstract

What role should a motivation to do the right thing, read de dicto, play in the life of a virtuous agent? According to a prominent argument from Michael Smith, those who are only ever motivated by such a desire are moral fetishists. Smith’s argument is designed to support motivational judgment internalism, the view that there is a necessary connection between moral judgments and motivation. Smith claims that motivational judgment externalism is committed to an implausible picture of the way in which moral judgments motivate. According to Smith, in order to explain why morally virtuous agents are reliably motivated to act in line with their moral judgments, the externalist must posit the existence of a desire to do the right thing, where this is read de dicto, not de re. This, he claims, is an implausible picture of moral motivation for virtuous agents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-346
Number of pages19
JournalHistory of Philosophy Quarterly
Volume33
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Adam Smith
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Moral Rightness
  • Moral Sentiments

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