ostensible motive

See: pretext
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References in classic literature ?
He had even devised a plan of starting off on a journey in this agreeable June weather; the headaches which he had constantly been alleging as a ground for stupidity and silence were a sufficient ostensible motive. But the journey was not taken, and by the fourth morning no distinct resolution was formed about the evenings; they were only foreseen as times when Maggie would still be present for a little while,--when one more touch, one more glance, might be snatched.
In almost every chapter, the detective encounters a new character with an ostensible motive for murder.
One wonders whether Governor Wani's ostensible motive is merely to appease some sections of Equatorians or he simply wants to pride himself as the governor with the largest number of counties and 18 commissioners reporting to him.
The ostensible motive for the attacks is usually cited as the US attacks on Libya in April 1986, launched from British bases - themselves a response to the bombing of a Berlin nightclub popular with US soldiers.
One of the book's theses is that the ostensible motive for an action often contradicts the real, unconscious one.
Their ostensible motives were of course of the purest kind, but the real driving forces were power and profit.