"There are none so blind as those who will not see." --

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quote of the Day: The Real Source of Moral Motivation

Nobody sane generally or standardly acts so as to realise utility, or “on the motive of Duty” (Kant’s own phrase), or “for the sake of virtue itself” (Aristotle’s own phrase). Even people who only act occasionally in these ways can be in danger of looking priggish, and out of touch with what really matters in life, to the rest of us.

            As I hinted in the last section, what really motivates most of us, most of the time, at least if we are moderately good people or better and are not being distracted by false motives like concern about “what others will think”, is love: love for spouses, love for children and parents, love for friends, love for God, love for ideals, love for valued places or artworks or possessions, love for pet projects, love for pets. The centrality of love is a striking feature of any typical credible ethical outlook. The marginality of love in typical moral theories, and more broadly in contemporary philosophical research, is equally striking. Love is at the heart of our ethical outlooks; it is love, and not concern with what is right and wrong, that mostly drives us into action. In that sense love puts us “beyond good and evil”, and beyond morality; while morality is a constraint on what motivates us (and a constraint: there are others), love is the very engine of motivation. 
[footnote omitted]--Timothy Chappell “Ethics beyond moral theoryPhilosophical Investigations 32 (3):206-243.

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