The Factors of Moral Worth

Dissertation, Yale University (2003)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Actions are right or wrong; agents are good or bad. Most ethicists are interested in the first dimension. My work is about the second. Factors relevant to the first dimension include, for example, the action's consequences and whether the action is a harm. But many other morally compelling factors are neglected if we focus exclusively on right and wrong---factors such as motives, intentions, effort, and character. These are among the factors of a second dimension, moral worth: the goodness or badness of agents. We can perform right actions without being good agents. Knowing which actions are right only partially helps us answer the question of what it is to be good. ;I take it that what I have just said reflects ordinary moral intuitions. Nevertheless moral worth is a neglected topic in contemporary philosophical ethics. Others have written about specific virtues, or about "virtue ethics" as an alternative moral theory to consequentialism and deontology. But I know of no one else who has attempted a close analysis of the general factors that constitute praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. An account of these factors is relevant to any of the three leading contemporary ethical theories. ;My examination of these factors yields a surprising wealth of possible positions. I map out these positions and argue for the best of them. My specific topics include the nature of motives, Kantian views about the motive of duty, the relative weight of first-order and second-order motives, patterns of motives, effort as a complex of apparently conflicting subfactors, and the relevance of counterfactual circumstances to character. I appeal to the cases of Oskar Schindler and Huck Finn, among others, to illustrate the complexities of these issues. ;My dissertation is the first systematic analysis of the factors of moral worth. Internal states of persons---motives, intentions, effort, character---matter to us, and an ethical theory is richer with an adequate account of them



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,419

External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Effort Expended, Effort Required, and the Theory of the Good.Kelly Sorensen - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 49:83-110.
The Relation of Moral Worth to the Good Will in Kant’s Ethics.Walter E. Schaller - 1992 - Journal of Philosophical Research 17:351-382.
Sorensen on Unknowable Obligations.Theodore Sider - 1995 - Utilitas 7 (2):273-279.
The Kantian Moral Worth of Actions Contrary to Duty.Samuel J. Kerstein - 1999 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 53 (4):530 - 552.
Kant's Theory of Moral Worth.Robert N. Johnson - 1993 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
On the value of acting from the motive of duty.Barbara Herman - 1981 - Philosophical Review 90 (3):359-382.
Moral Motivation and Moral Action.Julie Ane Tannenbaum - 2002 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
Moral Psychology.Michael A. Slote - 1998 - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Kant on Duty in the Groundwork.Benjamin Ferguson - 2012 - Res Publica 18 (4):303-319.
Saints, heroes, sages, and villains.Julia Markovits - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (2):289-311.
Virtue Ethics and Right Action.Diana Courtney Fleming - 2003 - Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley


Added to PP

1 (#1,501,023)

6 months
1 (#452,962)

Historical graph of downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Kelly Sorensen
Ursinus College

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references