“‘Ho hum, I’m being attacked by a bear’: How judgement is tied to concern and motivation”
By Jeremy Koons (Georgetown University in Qatar, Philosophy)
Date: Thursday 7th December, 2017
Abstract: A persistent problem in metaethics is the question of how to reconcile the cognitive and motivational elements of moral judgment. The lynchpin to the ‘moral problem’ is the Humean philosophy of mind, which holds that belief and desire are ‘distinct existences,’ and that both must be present to explain motivation. I attack the Humean theory of motivation from two directions. First, I argue that it presupposes a ‘formalist’ model of reasoning that has come under sustained attack from Brandom, Sellars, Lewis Carroll, and others. Second, I argue that in making moral (and other sorts of practical judgments), we take some feature of the world to be salient (and others not to be so). However, to see certain features as salient is already to make a judgment embodying various concerns, attitudes, and commitments; and hence, it is to make a judgment that is also essentially practical in nature (i.e., tied to intention and action).