A New Defense of the Motive of Duty Thesis

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (5):1163-1179 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


According to the Motive of Duty Thesis, a necessary condition for an action to have moral worth is that it be motivated at least in part by a normative assessment of the action. However, this thesis has been subject to two powerful objections. It has been accused of over-intellectualizing moral agency, and of giving the wrong verdict when it comes to people who hold false moral theories that convince them that their actions are in fact morally wrong. I argue that both of these objections can be convincingly answered using resources from the Guise of the Good view, which holds that for an agent to intend to requires that they take Φing to be good. Furthermore, I argue that combining the motive of duty thesis with the Guise of the Good view allows us to recognize an important further condition on moral worth—namely, that the agent recognize that their reason for action requires, rather than merely permits, their action. Thus, while no action lacks moral worth in virtue of being motivated by no normative evaluation at all, an action can still lack moral worth in virtue of failing to be motived by the correct normative evaluation, namely that the action is required.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,480

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

On the Value of Acting From the Motive of Duty.Barbara Herman - 1981 - Philosophical Review 90 (3):359-382.
The Relation of Moral Worth to the Good Will in Kant’s Ethics.Walter E. Schaller - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:351-382.
The Relation of Moral Worth to the Good Will in Kant’s Ethics.Walter E. Schaller - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:351-382.
Moral Worth.Nomy Arpaly - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (5):223.
Kant on Duty in the Groundwork.Benjamin Ferguson - 2012 - Res Publica 18 (4):303-319.
Acting with Feeling From Duty.Julie Tannenbaum - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (3):321-337.
More on the Motive of Duty.Michael Weber - 2007 - The Journal of Ethics 11 (1):65-86.
Moral Worth and Moral Knowledge.Paulina Sliwa - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):393-418.
Moral Motivation and Moral Action.Julie Ane Tannenbaum - 2002 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
Kant's Theory of Moral Worth.Robert N. Johnson - 1993 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Impermissibility and Kantian Moral Worth.Jill Graper Hernandez - 2010 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):403-419.


Added to PP

25 (#459,806)

6 months
1 (#417,896)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Benjamin Wald
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

In Praise of Desire.Nomy Arpaly & Timothy Schroeder - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
The Possibility of Practical Reason.David Velleman - 2000 - Oxford University Press.

View all 44 references / Add more references