Describe the distinction between Internalism and Externalism about moral motivation. Does Smith's argument against externalism work?
- What internalism is, in opposition to externalism, and finally which reasons have been found to explain moral motivation
- Presentation and discussion of Smith's thesis : beliefs cannot produce action, nor does desires ; but combined, they can
Moral motivation has always been the ground for fierce battles between different ways of thinking. The link between a belief and the will to act in accordance with the belief is indeed a mysterious problem. Many answers were found, and two schools emerged and opposed on the ground of moral motivation: the internalists and the externalists. Internalists thought the connection between the belief and the act was necessary: if you believe something is right, you will act appropriately. On the other hand, externalists advocated this link was contingent, and that believing something is right does not always imply the act. Within these schools even, some striking disagreement existed: between the Humeans and the Kantians, between cognitivists and non-cognitivists. One of the most important figures in this debate was Michael Smith, an Internalist who wrote "The Moral Problem". We will discuss several aspects of this debate in this document.