Cruel Intentions and Evil Deeds

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (2022)
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What it means for an action to have moral worth, and what is required for this to be the case, is the subject of continued controversy. Some argue that an agent performs a morally worthy action if and only if they do it because the action is morally right. Others argue that a morally worthy action is that which an agent performs because of features that make the action right. These theorists, though they oppose one another, share something important in common. They focus almost exclusively on the moral worth of right actions. But there is a negatively valenced counterpart that attaches to wrong actions, which we will call moral counterworth. In this paper, we explore the moral counterworth of wrong actions in order to shed new light on the nature of moral worth. Contrary to theorists in both camps, we argue that more than one kind of motivation can affect the moral worth of actions.

Author Profiles

Eyal Tal
University of Arizona (PhD)
Hannah Tierney
University of California, Davis


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