In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Vol. 10. Oxford University Press (2020)
AbstractThis paper defends an account of moral worth. Moral worth is a status that some, but not all, morally right actions have. Unlike with merely right actions, when an agent performs a morally worthy action, she is necessarily creditworthy for doing the right thing. First, I argue that two dominant views of moral worth have been unable to fully capture this necessary connection. On one view, an action is morally worthy if and only if its agent is motivated by the features of the action that make it right. On the other, an action is morally worthy if and only if its agent is motivated by the action’s rightness itself. Neither of these views captures the connection between moral worth and creditworthiness, because each view leaves room for cases of accidentally doing the right thing. Next, I develop a new account, which I call the Guise of Moral Reasons Account. On my account, morally worthy actions are right actions that are motivated by moral reasons as such. This account rules out cases of accidentally doing the right thing, thus capturing the necessary connection between moral worth and creditworthiness for doing the right thing.
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