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The Possibility of Amoralism

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The Possibility of Amoralism: A Defence Against Internalism

Brook J. Sadler

Page 1: ϕ

An amoralist is a person who understands moral terms, even recognises her moral obligations, but fails to be motivated by them

So the internalist would think that the amoralist is a conceptual impossibility because they do not think it is possible for you to recognise moral obligations and not be motivated by them

According to the internalist any case of amoralism is actually an inaccurate assessment

The alleged amoralist never actually understood the claims of morality to begin with/is irrational

Amoralism = conceptual confusion

This is the view that Michael Smith argues for – agrees with internalism and against the possibility of amoralism

In this essay Sadler will argue against Smith (mainly by defending the externalist view)

However – Sadler does not think that this commits her to externalism – unlike David Brink – she thinks that there are several ways of diffusing the debate so just because you defend the possibility of amoralism does not mean you are a committed externalist

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Smith considers 2 definitions of the internalist position:

  • Connection between moral judgements and the will – ‘if an agent judges that it is morally right for her to do something in circumstances C, then she is motivated to do that something in C’ – however Smith points out that this could be implausible because some people suffer weakness of will
  • More plausible – practicality requirement – ‘if an agent judges that it is morally right for her to do something in circumstance C, then either she is motivated to do that thing in C or she is practically irrational’ – more plausible because it shows that an agent’s judgement about what is right does not necessarily lead to motivation however if it doesn’t then they are deemed practically irrational



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