De dicto desires and morality as fetish

Philosophical Studies 163 (2):459-477 (2013)
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Abstract   It would be puzzling if the morally best agents were not so good after all. Yet one prominent account of the morally best agents ascribes to them the exact motivational defect that has famously been called a “fetish.” The supposed defect is a desire to do the right thing, where this is read de dicto . If the morally best agents really are driven by this de dicto desire, and if this de dicto desire is really a fetish, then the morally best agents are moral fetishists. This is puzzling. I resolve the puzzle by showing that on a proper understanding of the interaction between de dicto and de re moral motivation, it is not only not fetishistic, but quite possibly desirable, to be motivated by a de dicto desire to do the right thing. My argument relies partly on an appeal to a non-buck-passing account of moral rightness, according to which rightness is itself an additional reason-giving property over and above the right-making properties of an action. If this account of moral rightness is correct, then we would expect the morally best agents to exhibit de dicto moral motivation. However, since their de dicto desire acts in concert with de re desires, there is no reason to consider it a fetish. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-19 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9825-z Authors Vanessa Carbonell, Philosophy Department, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210374, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0374, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.

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Vanessa Carbonell
University of Cincinnati

Citations of this work

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Moral saints.Susan Wolf - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):419-439.

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