Motivation by Ideal

Philosophical Explorations 5 (2):89-103 (2002)
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I offer an account of how ideals motivate us. My account suggests that although emulating an ideal is often rational, it can lead us to do irrational things. * This is the third in a series of four papers on narrative self-conceptions and their role in moral motivation. In the first paper, “The Self as Narrator” (to appear in Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays, ed. Joel Anderson and John Christman), I explore the motivational role of narrative self-conceptions, drawing on Daniel Dennett’s notion of the self as a “center of narrative gravity”. In the second paper, “Willing the Law” (in Practical Conflicts, ed. Monika Betzler and Peter Baumann [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming]), I explore the role of selfconceptions in Kantian “conflicts in the will”, drawing on Christine Korsgaard’s notion of “practical identities”. In a fourth paper, “A Sense of Self” (ms), I explore the role of narrative self-con-ceptions in Kantian “conflicts in conception”, drawing on the work of Thomas Nagel and John Perry on the self.

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J. David Velleman
New York University


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