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Cognitivism, Motivation, and Dual-Process Approaches to Normative Judgment

Date and Time

Friday, October 20, 2017
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM


  • Mackinac Hall



Friday October 20 at 3:00pm in Mackinac Hall BLL-110 (Basement)


Brendan Cline (GVSU Philosophy)

Will be giving a talk entitled:

Cognitivism, Motivation, and Dual-Process Approaches to Normative Judgment


A central source of support for expressivist accounts of normative discourse is the intimate relationship between normative judgment and motivation. Expressivists argue that normative judgments must be noncognitive, desire-like states in order to be so tightly linked with motivation. Normative statements are then construed as expressions of these noncognitive states. In this paper, I draw on dual-process models in cognitive psychology to respond to this argument. According to my proposal, normative judgments are ordinary beliefs that are typically produced by two kinds of process: intuitive-affective processes and domain-general reasoning. When produced by the first kind of process, motivation and judgment tend to align. When produced by the second kind, motivation and judgment might not align. Since the first kind of process is the most common pathway of normative belief formation, normative judgments are typically accompanied by aligning motivation. This proposal enables cognitivists to explain the intimate link between normative judgment and motivation, thereby removing the major obstacle to interpreting normative statements truth-conditionally.


Value judgments are puzzling as they seem to have the capacity to motivate us to act (like desires) and the capacity to be true or false (like beliefs). Expressivists argue that value judgments must be desires, in order to motivate us, and thus are neither true nor false. Prof. Cline draws on work in cognitive psychology to argue that value judgments are actually beliefs that can be true or false. Their power to motivate comes from the way in which those beliefs are usually produced: by our emotional responses.

All are welcome to attend!



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