chapter  9
7 Pages

The Case of Owen Wingrave

The ‘more radical’ externalists exemplified in recent times by Prichard in ‘Does moral philosophy rest on a mistake?’ ([1912] 1968) can, if the conclusions of the previous chapter are correct, survive assimilation both to accidentalists and necessitarians. They construe the relation between moral judgement and motivation in a way which enables them to meet, as these others cannot, the two requirements for talk of morality’s special authority: ‘distance’ and ‘directness’. But their success depends on the postulation of external motives, and thus on the rejection of the subjectivist assumption. But it is just these features of their position which fit them, it would seem, to be targets of the ‘extreme’ version of the practicality argument. How, it will scornfully be asked by the argument’s proponents, can a mere fact such as an action’s supposed objective ‘fittingness’ to or rightness in the situation itself furnish any motive for an agent?