Moral uncertainty and fetishistic motivation

Philosophical Studies 173 (11):2951-2968 (2016)
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Sometimes it’s not certain which of several mutually exclusive moral views is correct. Like almost everyone, I think that there’s some sense in which what one should do depends on which of these theories is correct, plus the way the world is non-morally. But I also think there’s an important sense in which what one should do depends upon the probabilities of each of these views being correct. Call this second claim “moral uncertaintism”. In this paper, I want to address an argument against moral uncertaintism offered in the pages of this journal by Brian Weatherson, and seconded elsewhere by Brian Hedden, the crucial premises of which are: that acting on moral uncertaintist norms necessarily involves motivation by reasons or rightness as such, and that such motivation is bad. I will argue that and are false, and that at any rate, the quality of an agent’s motivation is not pertinent to the truth or falsity of moral uncertaintism in the way that Weatherson’s and Hedden’s arguments require.

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Andrew Sepielli
University of Toronto, Mississauga


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