Moral Advice and Joint Agency

In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, 8. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 102-123 (2018)
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There are many alleged problems with trusting another person’s moral testimony, perhaps the most prominent of which is that it fails to deliver moral understanding. Without moral understanding, one cannot do the right thing for the right reason, and so acting on trusted moral testimony lacks moral worth. This chapter, however, argues that moral advice differs from moral testimony, differs from it in a way that enables a defender of moral advice to parry this worry about moral worth. The basic idea is that an advisor and an advisee can together constitute a joint agent, and that this joint agent’s action can indeed have moral worth. So while the advisee himself might not do the right thing for the right reason (this because all alone he lacks the right reason), and while the advisor herself might not do the right thing for the right reason (this because all alone she does not do the right thing), they together do the right for the right reason.



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Eric Wiland
University of Missouri, St. Louis

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References found in this work

Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.
Walking Together: A Paradigmatic Social Phenomenon.Margaret Gilbert - 1990 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 15 (1):1-14.
Autonomy and the Asymmetry Problem for Moral Expertise.Julia Driver - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 128 (3):619-644.

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