MIT24_120s09_lec03 - MIT OpenCourseWare http:/ocw.mit.edu...

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MIT OpenCourseWare http://ocw.mit.edu 24.120 Moral Psychology Spring 2009 For information about citing these materials or our Terms of Use, visit: http://ocw.mit.edu/terms .
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24.120 MORAL PSYCHOLOGY RICHARD HOLTON III Belief/Desire Psychology & The Humean Theory of Motivation Belief/Desire Psychology Belief/Desire psychology was for a long time the dominant approach in psychology and philosophy, and is still very important; it remains dominant in economics. The origins go back at least to Hume, and to the idea that a belief on its own will not move an agent. (In contrast Kant thought that one could be motivated to act morally just by the judgment that the action was morally right; indeed, on his account, if one has a desire to act morally, that corrupts the moral motivation.) But the claim has developed from the thought that beliefs are insufficient to move an agent, to the claim that desires are necessary to move an agent. In psychology this was given impetus by the (broadly behavioristic) drive to operationalize mental notions: desires earn their scientific keep if they are manifested in action. In economics this becomes the idea behind revealed preference theory: an agent’s preferences are revealed by their actions; a similar idea is present in most decision theory. There is something attractively hard-headed about the idea: actions speak louder than words. (Though don’t words have some role? Beowulf talks of ‘words and deeds’ (‘worda ond worca’ Ch IV l. 289) as having a role.) Smith’s account: two sorts of reasons, and a third Normative reason : you have reason to get off the person’s foot; Motivating reason : your desire to hurt the person (and your belief that this hurts) is the reason you keep standing on their foot; Psychological but non-intentional reason : your drunkenness is the reason that you think that standing on their foot is the best way to hurt them.
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course PHIL 201H1F taught by Professor Derekallen during the Fall '10 term at University of Toronto- Toronto.

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MIT24_120s09_lec03 - MIT OpenCourseWare http:/ocw.mit.edu...

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