Motive and Rightness

Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK (2011)
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Abstract

Motive and Rightness is the first book-length attempt to answer the question, Does the motive of an action ever make a difference in whether that action is morally right or wrong? Steven Sverdlik argues that the answer is yes. His book examines the major theories now being discussed by moral philosophers to see if they can provide a plausible account of the relevance of motives to rightness and wrongness. Sverdlik argues that consequentialism gives a better account of these matters than Kantianism or certain important forms of virtue ethics. In carrying out the investigation Sverdlik presents an analysis of the nature of motives, and he considers their relations to normative judgments and intentions. A chapter is devoted to analyzing the extent to which motives are 'available' to rational agents, and the importance of feelings and unconscious motives. Historical figures such as Kant, Bentham, Mill and Ross are discussed, as well as contemporary writers like Korsgaard, Herman, Hurka, Slote and Hursthouse. Motive and Rightness is unusual in its interweaving of ethical theory, both historical and contemporary, with moral psychology, action theory, and psychology.

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Steven Sverdlik
Southern Methodist University

Citations of this work

Efficient Markets and Alienation.Barry Maguire - 2022 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
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Competitive virtue ethics and narrow morality.Bradford Cokelet - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (12):3567-3591.
The knowledge norm of assertion: keep it simple.Max Lewis - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12963-12984.
Punishment and Reform.Steven Sverdlik - 2014 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 8 (3):619-633.

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