Moral Worth and Our Ultimate Moral Concerns

Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Some right acts have what philosophers call moral worth. A right act has moral worth if and only if its agent deserves credit for having acted rightly in this instance. And I argue that an agent deserves credit for having acted rightly if and only if her act issues from an appropriate set of concerns, where the appropriateness of these concerns is a function what her ultimate moral concerns should be. Two important upshots of the resulting account of moral worth are that (1) an act can have moral worth even if it doesn’t manifest a concern for doing what’s right and that (2) an act can lack moral worth even if it is performed for the right reasons.

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Douglas W. Portmore
Arizona State University

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