More Seriously Wrong, More Importantly Right

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (1):41-58 (2019)
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Common-sense morality divides acts into those that are right and those that are wrong, but it thinks some wrong acts are more seriously wrong than others, for example murder than breaking a promise. If an act is more seriously wrong, you should feel more guilt about it and, other things equal, are more blameworthy for it and can deserve more punishment; more serious wrongs are also more to be avoided given empirical or moral uncertainty. This paper examines a number of different views about what makes for more serious wrongness and considers the possibility that this may be different for acts that violate deontological vs. consequentialist duties. It also asks whether there’s a parallel concept that admits of degrees on the side of rightness, one of being, as we can say, more importantly right.

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Thomas Hurka
University of Toronto, St. George Campus


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