Moral Worth: Having it Both Ways

Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)

Jessica Isserow
University of Leeds
It is commonly recognised that one can act rightly without being praiseworthy for doing so. Those who act rightly from ignoble motives, for instance, do not strike us as particularly fitting targets of moral praise; their actions seem to lack moral worth. Though there is broad agreement that only certain kinds of motives confer moral worth on our actions, there is disagreement as to which ones are up to the task. Many theorists confine themselves to two possibilities: praiseworthy agents are thought to be motivated by either (1) the consideration that their actions are morally right, or (2) the considerations that explain why their actions are morally right (where the ‘or’ is exclusive). Though there is an important element of truth in these proposals, each has limited explanatory purchase. In this paper, I develop a pluralist account of moral worth that acknowledges both sorts of motives as legitimate grounds for moral praise.
Keywords Moral Worth
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