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Promotionalism, Motivationalism and Reasons to Perform Physically Impossible Actions

Sinclair, Neil

Authors

NEIL SINCLAIR neil.sinclair@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Philosophy



Abstract

In this paper I grant the Humean premise that some reasons for action are grounded in the desires of the agents whose reasons they are. I then consider the question of the relation between the reasons and the desires that ground them. According to promotionalism, a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as A’s φing helps promote p. According to motivationalism a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as it explains why, in certain circumstances, A would be motivated to φ. I then give an argument favouring motivationalism, namely that promotionalism entails that agents have reasons to perform physically impossible actions, whereas motivationalism entails that there are no such reasons. Although this is a version of the ‘Too Many Reasons’ objection to promotionalism, I show that existing responses to that problem do not transfer to the case of reasons to perform physically impossible actions. In the penultimate section I consider and reject some objections to motivationalism made by promotionalists. The conclusion is that Humeans about reasons for action should prefer motivationalism.

Citation

Sinclair, N. (2012). Promotionalism, Motivationalism and Reasons to Perform Physically Impossible Actions. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 15(5), 647-659. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-012-9360-9

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 12, 2012
Online Publication Date Mar 29, 2012
Publication Date 2012-11
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2012
Publicly Available Date Mar 29, 2012
Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Print ISSN 1386-2820
Electronic ISSN 1572-8447
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 5
Pages 647-659
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-012-9360-9
Keywords Philosophy; Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1009323
Publisher URL https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10677-012-9360-9
Additional Information This is a draft version of the paper that is due to appear in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice in 2012. The final publication is (or soon will be) available at www.springerlink.com

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