The MMER project

Moral Motivation: Evidence and Relevance

Project description

The relation between moral judgments and moral motivation is a central issue in ethical theory, having implications for the nature of moral emotions and moral judgments, the meaning of normative terms and the possibility of objective truth and knowledge in morality.

According to one account of this relation, known as “motivational moral judgment internalism”, or just “internalism”, making a moral judgment implies being at least somewhat motivated to act accordingly under normal circumstances. Internalism seems to capture our sense that morality is, above all, a matter of practical concern: When we come to think that some act is wrong, we are against it; when we think that it is our moral duty, we want to do it or feel forced to do it; when we think that a child needs to better grasp the difference between right and wrong, we think that such a grasp will tend to direct the child towards the right. On the other hand, internalism seems to undermine the view that moral matters are objective. Objective facts seem to be facts that can in principle be grasped independently of ones particular interests and point view, but internalism seems to suggest that what we take to be morally right or wrong depends exactly on what our interests are, interests that vary from one person to another.

MMER aims at (i) charting possible philosophical implications of various forms of internalism, (ii) detailing possible evidence for and against these forms, and (iii) conduct studies assessing such implications and evidence. The methods used combine traditional philosophical inquiry with quantified empirical studies.



May 18-20 2012. Conference: Moral Motivation: Evidence and Relevance


Invited speakers:

  1. James Dreier (Brown) Jeanette Kennett (Macquarie)

  2. Jesse Prinz (CUNY)

  3. Michael Ridge (Edinburgh)Michael Smith (Princeton)Sigrún Svavarsdóttir (Ohio) Jon Tresan (Chapel Hill)

  4. Nick Zangwill (Durham)

Continuous activities. The MMER research seminar meets about ten times each semester.

August 17-18 2011.
Workshop on The Relevance of Motivational Internalism

Invited speakers:
    Jon Tresan (Chapel Hill)
Michael Ridge (Edinburgh)
    Jimmy Lenman (Sheffield)  
    Nick Zangwill (Durham)

September 4th 2010. Workshop on Metaethics and Empirical Methods.

Presentations by:
    Shaun Nichols (Arizona)
    Antti Kauppinen (Dublin)
    Folke Tersman (Uppsala)
    Gunnar Björnsson
    (Linköping, Gothenburg)
    Ragnar Francén