chapter  10
23 Pages

VIRTUE AND MOTIVATION: OBLIGATION AND ASPIRATION

And, indeed, moral philosophers have wondered about precisely this question with respect to the pursuit of the moral or virtuous life. For whereas it may be easy enough to see what rewards attend the perfect mastery of a musical instrument – if not the intrinsic pleasure of just playing, then the fame, the money, the foreign travel and the adoration of beautiful women – it may appear less easy to see what a person might gain from a lifetime of self-sacrifice and dedication to others as a good and trusted servant of the community, especially if, as some moral sages are prone to remind us, good or virtuous acts when

performed for the sake of an extrinsic reward, even a feeling of self-congratulation, hardly count as virtuous acts at all. What, after all, is the attraction of the lifetime of sacrifice made by parents on behalf of a handicapped child, if they are to be denied even the feeling that they are to be commended for doing the right thing?