Morality and Overdemandingness: Reasons and Institutions


The project assesses the truth of the Overdemandingness Objection (OD) according to which the view that the right thing to do is what produces the best results from an impersonal point of view - the view called consequentialism - is unacceptably demanding. The project divides into two parts. The first part attempts to show that one neglected way to counter OD is by arguing that moral demands do not generate overriding reasons in a conflict with non-moral reasons. The second part of the research adds to this another neglected way to tackle OD. By building on the strong relation between institutions and moral demands, it examines the possibility of constraining the demands of consequentialism through the institutional framework. In its style of reasoning, this is a moral enterprise, but in its significance it is also political: in an imperfect world, the demands of consequentialism, thus the significance of OD as a response to these demands, have overwhelming practical implications. Although the project employs results from several fields, hence in this sense it is interdisciplinary, its method is purely analytical and requires no empirical or scientific means to proceed. To achieve its objectives, the project builds upon the findings of my doctoral and postdoctoral research. In addition, elements of the project have been discussed in international conferences, seminars and workshops.!

  • Tanyi, Attila - Project leader
  • Zukunftskolleg
  Tanyi, Attila (2013): Pure Cognitivism and Beyond Acta Analytica. 2013, 29(3), pp. 331-348. ISSN 0353-5150. eISSN 1874-6349. Available under: doi: 10.1007/s12136-013-0210-8

Pure Cognitivism and Beyond


The article begins with Jonathan Dancy’s attempt to refute the Humean Theory of Motivation. It first spells out Dancy’s argument for his alternative position, the view he labels ‘Pure Cognitivism’, according to which what motivate are always beliefs, never desires. The article next argues that Dancy’s argument for his position is flawed. On the one hand, it is not true that desire always comes with motivation in the agent; on the other, even if this was the case, it would still not follow that desire is identical with the state of being motivated. When this negative work is done, the article turns to some positive, albeit admittedly tentative remarks about what sort of cognitivist theory of motivation one should endorse. The aim at this point is not to present a brand new theory, but rather to sketch an alternative that stems from what Dancy himself says and is in line with many of his endorsed commitments in other areas. In this way, by moving beyond Pure Cognitivism, the paper sketches a different, but still ‘Dancyesque’ theory of motivation.

Origin (projects)

Funding sources
Name Finanzierungstyp Kategorie Project no.
Sonstige third-party funds research funding program 419/10
Further information
Period: 01.01.2010 – 30.06.2011