Acting for the right reasons

Philosophical Review 119 (2):201-242 (2010)
Abstract
This essay examines the thought that our right actions have moral worth only if we perform them for the right reasons. It argues against the view, often ascribed to Kant, that morally worthy actions must be performed because they are right and argues that Kantians and others ought instead to accept the view that morally worthy actions are those performed for the reasons why they are right. In other words, morally worthy actions are those for which the reasons why they were performed (the reasons motivating them) and the reasons why they morally ought to have been performed (the reasons morally justifying them) coincide. The essay calls this the Coincident Reasons Thesis and argues that it provides plausible necessary and sufficient conditions for morally worthy action, defending the claim against proposed counterexamples. It ends by showing that the plausibility of the thesis, which it argues is largely independent of any particular ethical standpoint, gives us some reason to doubt a class of ethical theories that includes utilitarianism.
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Citations of this work BETA
Joshua May (2013). Because I Believe It's the Right Thing to Do. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (4):791-808.
Allen Coates (2013). The Enkratic Requirement. European Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):320-333.
Paulina Sliwa (2012). In Defense of Moral Testimony. Philosophical Studies 158 (2):175-195.
Roger Crisp (forthcoming). A Third Method of Ethics? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

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