The Relationship Between Effort and Moral Worth: Three Amendments to Sorensen’s Model

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (2):325-334 (2014)
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Abstract

Kelly Sorensen defends a model of the relationship between effort and moral worth in which the effort exerted in performing a morally desirable action contributes positively to the action’s moral worth, but the effort required to perform the action detracts from its moral worth. I argue that Sorensen’s model, though on the right track, is mistaken in three ways. First, it fails to capture the relevance of counterfactual effort to moral worth. Second, it wrongly implies that exerting unnecessary effort confers moral worth on an action. Third, it fails to adequately distinguish between cases in which effort is required because of defects of moral character and those in which effort is required because of barriers external to moral character, such as social pressures or non-moral cognitive deficits. I suggest three amendments to Sorensen’s model that correct these three defects

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Thomas Douglas
University of Oxford

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References found in this work

On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Unprincipled virtue: an inquiry into moral agency.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Virtues and Vices: And Other Essays in Moral Philosophy.Philippa Foot - 1978 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Acting for the right reasons.Julia Markovits - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (2):201-242.

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