On Reasons, Evidence of Oughts, and Morally Fitting Motives

Philosophia 42 (2):391-403 (2014)
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Abstract

In a series of papers, Stephen Kearns and Daniel Star defend the following general account of reasons: R: Necessarily, a fact F is a reason for an agent A to Φ iff F is evidence that an agent ought to Φ.In this paper, I argue that the reasons as evidence view will run afoul of a motivational constraint on moral reasons, and that this is a powerful reason to reject the reasons as evidence view. The motivational constraint is as follows: M: For some consideration C to be a moral reason for an agent to Φ it must be possible for C to figure as part of the agent’s motivation for Φing without thereby undercutting (either partially or wholly) the positive moral evaluation of the agent in acting as she does.M presents a problem for Kearns and Star’s view because there will be cases where some consideration is evidence that an agent ought to Φ, but where if an agent was motivated by that consideration the agent’s action would thereby be worse from a moral perspective for that very reason. Further, I argue that this problem will likely arise on any moral theory that evaluates the motivation of an agent as a component of assessing the moral status of acts

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Andrew Jordan
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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References found in this work

Slaves of the passions.Mark Andrew Schroeder - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ethics without principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Unprincipled virtue: an inquiry into moral agency.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The practice of moral judgment.Barbara Herman - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (8):414-436.

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