Internalists relax! We can’t all be amoralists

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In “Internalists Beware – We Might All Be Amoralists!” Gunnar Björnsson and Ragnar Francén Olinder [henceforth B&O] offer an original objection to motivational internalism, which promises to move the debate beyond the seeming stalemate between externalists and internalists. The main idea behind this objection is that to pose a challenge to internalists, amoralists need not fail to be motivated to do the right thing – they might reliably be motivated to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Moreover, we could all be amoralists if enough of us were motivated in this way – at any rate, this is an intelligible hypothesis. This, though, spells trouble for motivational internalism. The challenge is dialectically powerful precisely because internalists often fall back on the idea that although individuals can fail to be motivated to do what they take to be the right thing, the idea that whole communities could fail to be appropriately motivated yet still be making moral judgments makes no sense (Cf. Blackburn 1998: 61–63). The hypothesis put forward by B&O puts pressure on this classic internalist strategy of “going communal” by emphasizing that the assumption of no appropriate motivation is too stark; motivation of the wrong sort would still undermine internalism as it is best interpreted. In this paper, I argue that this intriguing new objection to internalism can, after all, be met if we pay special attention to judgments of blameworthiness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845–850
Issue number3
Early online date30 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • internalism
  • meta-ethics
  • metaethics
  • expressivism
  • motivation
  • amoralism
  • amoralist

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