His family might have expressed themselves by saying

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Unformatted text preview: Wingrave example comes into play. Writes Williams: “Owen’s family urge on him the necessity and importance of his joining the army, since all his male ancestors were soldiers, and family pride requires him to do the same. Owen Wingrave has no motivation to join the army at all, and all his desires lead in another direction: he hates military life and what it means. His family might have expressed themselves by saying that there was a reason for Owen to join the army. Knowing that there was nothing in Owen’s S which would lead, through deliberative reasoning, to his doing this would not make them withdraw the claim or admit that they made it under a misapprehension. They mean it in an external sense.” 24 However, Williams asserts, it is unclear what external reason statements so described CEU eTD Collection might actually mean. They cannot serve as an explanation of a person’s (in this case Owen’s) acting in a certain way, since for that to be the case, they would also have to motivate him in some way, which they, by definition, cannot do. “[N]o external reason statement could by itself offer an explanation of anyone’s action. Even if it were true (whatever that might turn out to mean) that there was a reason for Owen to join the army, that fact by itself would never explain anything that Owen did, not even his joining the army, For if it was true at all, it was 23 At least she will have no motivation arising from the need. She may have a motivation to take the medicine for instance, because she would not want to make her relatives worried. But that is a motivation arising from her worry for her relatives and their feelings and not from her need for the medicine in order to stay alive. 24 Williams, 106 16 true when Owen was not motivated to join the army. The whole point of external reason statements is that they can be true independently of the agent’s motivations.” 25 To cut the long story short, Williams comes to a conclusion that, even when we introduce a psychological link between the truth of the eternal reason claim and the individual’s action, that is, belief, the case for external reasons does not look any better, and here is why. If this belief (that one has reason to do what is reasonable) can itself be considered a motive, then the external reason indeed collapses into an internal one. If this is not the case however, we are back at the beginning, and we cannot see how the external reason can be meaningful. Williams elaborates on this line of argumentation, but I will only skim through its main points. Namely, he argues that if we understand the external reason statement as a claim that if the person deliberates on her motives, she will end up accepting the external reason as a reason for action, then we are actually already presupposing that the person has a motivation to act in accordance with the external reason, but that she just has not made that clear to herself. However, that would mean that what we are making is indeed not an external reason statement at all, but a disguised internal reason statement. On the other hand, if we claim that having external reasons require new motives, which cannot be inferred from the set of existing CEU eTD Collection ones simply through deliberation, then it is very unclear how the...
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This note was uploaded on 02/06/2013 for the course ENGLISH LI 21 taught by Professor Han during the Fall '13 term at Tsinghua University.

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