Internalism and the part-time moralist
An essay about the objectivity of moral judgments
This paper contends that internalism with respect moral motivation (the view that we are always moved to act in accordance with our moral judgments) is wrong. While internalism can accommodate amoralists, it cannot explain the phenomenon of ‘part-time moralists’ — the person who is (ostensibly at least) moved by some of his or her moral judgments but not others — and hence should be rejected. This suggests that moral judgments are beliefs (or conscious representations) as opposed to desires. It is contended that morality consists of the set of principles which will maximise happiness and that our moral consciousness is motivated when a desire to maximise happiness is copresent with such a belief. Finally, it is argued that this does not entail that morality is a subjective or relative concept.
Keywords: Internalism, externalism, moral motivation, moral emotion, fellow feeling, empathy
Published online: 27 May 2002