Monday, January 25, 2010

Some thoughts on Internalism

The debate between reasons-internalism and reasons-externalism is about a few things: what is the nature (ontology) of moral propositions (here proposition means moral judgments, or moral reasons I act on) and that ontology of values tells a whole bunch about morality in terms of its function, of its source, and explains the moral language behind those propositions. For instance, if I claim that universally "Cheating on academic tests is wrong" and I am an internalist about this example, then I am committed to something like the following:

1. There is a moral reason that is binding for everyone.

2. The bindingness of this moral proposition is right for anyone to do regardless of their motivation to abide by it.

3. The source of normativity a la externalism is apart from motivation, and likewise apart from subjectivity. Therefore, it requires a metaphysics that accounts for moral reasons as a mind-independent property in much the same way we commonly think of perceptual properties of an object. Some candidates might be:

a) Moral reasons come from God's commands
b) Moral reasons are woven into the fabric of nature from God, and we can add to this moral law
c) Moral reasons are disclosed in our experience and like Aristotle, normativity is found in the exercising of potential properties to actual fulfilling properties.
d) Moral reasons are apprehended by our intuition in much the same way we directly apprehend mathematical truths.
e) Moral reasons are perceived like color properties. I think this could be naturalized to even say something like, I have evolved the capacity of a moral sense to apprehend altruistic behavior.

4. Some internalists might claim that motivation inheres in what it is to have a reason in the first place.

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