Moral Reason, Moral Sentiments and the Realization of Altruism: A Motivational Theory of Altruism

Asian Philosophy 22 (2):93-119 (2012)
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This paper begins with Thomas Nagel's (1970) investigation of the possibility of altruism to further examine how to motivate altruism. When the pursuit of the gratification of one's own desires generally has an immediate causal efficacy, how can one also be motivated to care for others and to act towards the well-being of others? A successful motivational theory of altruism must explain how altruism is possible under all these motivational interferences. The paper will begin with an exposition of Nagel's proposal, and see where it is insufficient with regard to this further issue. It will then introduce the views of Zhang Zai and Wang Fuzhi, and see which one could offer a better motivational theory of altruism. All three philosophers offer different insights on the role of human reason/reflection and human sentiments in moral motivation. The paper will end with a proposal for a socioethical moral program that incorporates both moral reason and moral sentiments as motivation.
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