From Self Psychology to Moral Philosophy

Philosophical Perspectives 14:349-377 (2000)
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I have therefore decided to venture out of the philosophical armchair in order to examine the empirical evidence, as gathered by psychologists aiming to prove or disprove motivational conjectures like mine. By and large, this evidence is indirect in relation to my account of agency, since it is drawn from cases in which the relevant motive has been forced into the open by the manipulations of an experimenter. The resulting evidence doesn’t tend to show the mechanism of agency humming along in accordance with my specifications; it tends to show the knocks and shudders that such a mechanism emits when put under stress. But we often learn about the normal workings of things by subjecting them to abnormal conditions; and viewed in this light, various programs of psychological research offer indirect support to my account of agency. I’ll begin by reviewing the relevant research, leaving its relevance to my account of agency for the final section of the paper.
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