chapter  7
1 Pages

Desires, Beliefs and ‘Direction of Fit’

Even today, despite the pioneering work of Nagel (1970) and others, it is still largely a commonplace of philosophy that desires are more closely linked than beliefs to motivation. That there should be this motivational asymmetry between desire and belief happens of course to be vital to non-cognitivists. For as we saw unless the second premiss of the ‘moderate’ version of the practicality argument is reinterpreted so as to entail such an asymmetry, the conclusion that moral judgements are desires will not follow. The point is this: the ‘moderate’ version accords to belief a necessary role in motivation, though only alongside desire. If therefore moral judgements are to be identified with desires, the latter will have to be as closely linked to motivation as moral judgements themselves, and more closely linked to it than any belief. Thus, premiss 2 must entail that desires, unlike beliefs, but like moral judgements (according to premiss 1) are essentially, or intrinsically, motivating.