Accidental rightness

Philosophia 37 (1):91-104 (2009)
In this paper I argue that the disagreement between modern moral philosophers and (some) virtue ethicists about whether motive affects rightness is a result of conceptual disagreement, and that when they develop a theory of ‘right action,’ the two parties respond to two very different questions. Whereas virtue ethicists tend to use ‘right’ as interchangeable with ‘good’ or ‘virtuous’ and as implying moral praise, modern moral philosophers use it as roughly equivalent to ‘in accordance with moral obligation.’ One implication of this is that the possibility of an act being right by accident does not pose a problem for consequentialism or deontology. A further implication is that it reveals a shortcoming in virtue ethics, namely that it does not—yet needs to—present an account of moral obligation.
Keywords Accidental rightness  Good (praiseworthy or virtuous) action  Justice  Right action  Moral obligation  Virtue ethics
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-008-9136-6
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas Nagel (1979). Mortal Questions. Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA
Daniel Doviak (2011). A New Form of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):259-272.

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