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Title: Internalism for externalists
Author: Young, Mark
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 1328
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis asks whether all reasons for action are 'internal', in the sense that a motivation to act as they recommend can be rationally derived from the psychology of the agent for whom they are reasons. I believe they are, and attempt to layout the best argument for preferring this view to an 'externalist' one, according to which an agent may have a reason to perform some act even when a motivation to do so cannot be rationally derived from his psychology. Along the way, I reject several alternative arguments: that external reasons cannot be sensitive to facts about particular agents; that some external reasons would be incapable of motivating the actions they are reasons for; that external reasons do not bear a sufficiently close connection to blame; that externalist theories are concerned with value, rather than reason; and that we should be sceptical about the 'practical truths' that externalists think are involved in reasons for action. The argument I eventually endorse relies on the premise that reasons for action, whatever they are, must at least sometimes be able to motivate the actions for which they are reasons, because this is what it takes to act for a reason. Internal reasons can achieve this, by appealing to an agent's rational dispositions. External reasons cannot; if they can motivate, it is in virtue of their also being internal reasons. Internalism can take both 'relativist' forms, such as Bernard Williams', and 'objectivist' forms, such as Christine Korsgaard's. I take no stance on the debate between them, but I am particularly interested in the defensibility of the relativist form. I therefore try to show how practical rationality that is controlled by your psychology can constrain your actions, and allow you to learn practical lessons from experience, in ways that unattractive instrumentalist models prohibit.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available