In a debate in the comments of a previous post, Richard Wein thinks my position is inconsistent over internalism and externalism. This post is an answer to Richard Wein to explain why it is consistent.
One might ask how it is possible to be a motivational externalist and a reasons internalist? Can one consistently take both positions?
This looks puzzling unless one realises this is possibly why philosophers went to the bother of making the distinction between these two types of internalism and externalism in the first place. That is the conclusion of inconsistency is based is based on thinking that the reasons internalism/ externalism distinction is same distinction as motivational internalism/externalism. They are not, at least as I understand them, as I intend to show here.
I will state these philosophical positions in the terms that I use which will make it obvious why I have these philosophical positions and why they are consistent.
Motivational Internalism and Externalism
Motivational internalism says that if an agent has knowledge of reasons to act that exist then this entails that they have the accompanying reasons to act - that, is they already have reason to act in accordance with such reasons to act. This is clearly false, the fact that there are reasons to act that exist does not imply that the agent to whom this knowledge is being given has those reasons to act.
The contrary and correct view is that of motivational externalism. This allows that an agent can be aware of reasons to act that exists but these may not be their reasons to act and so they are not motivated to act on them.
Reasons internalism and externalism
Reasons internalism says that only reasons to act that are internal to the agent can motivate the agent. A reasons externalist says reasons to act that exist that are not reasons of the agent can motivate the agent.
Since any agent seeks to fulfil the more and stronger of the desires they have, if they do not have such desires – reasons to act- then those reasons are not internal to them and they will not be motivated to fulfil them.
So I am a reasons internalist.
Motivational externalism says that there are prescriptions that agents can be aware of that do not motivate. True when considering the descriptive (cognitive) meaning of a prescription.
Reasons internalism says that unless reasons to act are, in one way or another, internalised, that is made part of the agent’s internal reasons to act, then they will not have any reason to act. True when considering the motivating (non-cognitive) meaning of a prescription. The process of internalisation being the social forces of praise and blame, reward and punishment.
So both positions are correct and consistent, that is that motivational externalism is true and reasons internalism is true.