One Thought Too Few: Where De Dicto Moral Motivation is Necessary

Ron Aboodi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


De dicto moral motivation is typically characterized by the agent’s conceiving of her goal in thin normative terms such as to do what is right. I argue that lacking an effective de dicto moral motivation (at least in a certain broad sense of this term) would put the agent in a bad position for responding in the morally-best manner (relative to her epistemic state) in a certain type of situations. Two central features of the relevant type of situations are (1) the appropriateness of the agent’s uncertainty concerning her underived moral values, and (2) the practical, moral importance of resolving this uncertainty. I argue that in some situations that are marked by these two features the most virtuous response is deciding to conduct a deep moral inquiry for a de dicto moral purpose. In such situations lacking an effective de dicto moral motivation would amount to a moral shortcoming. I show the implications for Michael Smith’s (1994) argument against Motivational Judgment Externalism and for Brian Weatherson’s (2014) argument against avoiding moral recklessness: both arguments rely on a depreciating view of de dicto moral motivation, and both fail; or so I argue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-237
Number of pages15
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Brian Weatherson
  • De dicto desire
  • Fetishism
  • Michael Smith
  • Moral inquiry
  • Moral motivation
  • Moral uncertainty
  • Thin concepts


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