Motivation and Motivating Reason

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

Abstract

Philosophers have stressed the need to distinguish between explanatory (motivating) reasons and justifying (good) reasons. The distinction is often illustrated with an example of someone doing something that is intended to appear at the outset as incomprehensible. The next step is then to add some further details about the agent — typically some information about his or her beliefs and desires — providing some sort of explanation of the agent’s peculiar behaviour, making it suddenly intelligible. The added piece of information is intended to reveal what motivated the agent to act in such an odd way. The story continues, however, and in the next step we are introduced to further information. This time the information relates, rather, to our own epistemic position, or understanding of the situation, and only indirectly to the agent’s beliefs. Thus, we are assumed to hold some true beliefs that the agent either lacks or actually believes to be false. As a result we can be expected to form an opinion about what ought to have been — or, minimally, what ought not to have been — the agent’s reason. Cases like this afford an intuitive grasp of the distinction between explanatory and normative reasons.However, more recently the picture such cases present has been supplemented, or perhaps even corrected. There is a further feature of the case that needs to be teased out — one that gives a finer-grained understanding of what is going on than that provided by talk of the agent’s explanatory reasons. I share this view, and so what I will be doing in this paper is mainly to underline the need to dig a bit deeper. Motivation, as I shall argue, comes in different forms.

Details

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy

Keywords

  • Explanatory reason, motivating reason, intentional content, expressive acts, habits
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJohanssonian Investigations: Essays in Honour of Ingvar Johansson on His Seventieth Birthday
EditorsChrister Svennerlind, Jan Almäng, Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson
PublisherOntos Verlag
Pages464-485
ISBN (Print)978-3-86838-190-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Related projects

Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen

2010/01/012012/12/31

Project: Research

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