Moral worth, right reasons and counterfactual motives

Fearnley, L. (2022) Moral worth, right reasons and counterfactual motives. Philosophical Studies, 179(9), pp. 2869-2890. (doi: 10.1007/s11098-022-01805-6)

[img] Text
264918.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



This paper explores the question of what makes an action morally worthy. I start with a popular theory of moral worth which roughly states that a right action is morally praiseworthy if and only if it is performed in response to the reasons which make the action right. While I think the account provides promising foundations for determining praiseworthiness, I argue that the view lacks the resources to adequately satisfy important desiderata associated with theories of moral worth. Firstly, the view does not adequately capture the degree to which an action has moral worth, and secondly, the view does not identify if right actions produced from overdetermined motives have moral worth. However, all is not lost; I also argue that the account can satisfy the desiderata when it attends to the agent’s counterfactual motives in addition to their actual motives. By considering counterfactual motives, we can measure the robustness of the actual praiseworthy motive, and attending to motivational robustness allows the new proposal to fully satisfy the two desiderata. At the end of this paper, I respond to some criticisms typically brought against a counterfactual view of moral worth.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fearnley, Ms Laura
Authors: Fearnley, L.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities
College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Philosophical Studies
ISSN (Online):1573-0883
Published Online:07 June 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Author
First Published:First published in Philosophical Studies 179(9): 2869-2890
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record