Chapter

The Deontic Relevance of Motives

Steven Sverdlik

in Motive and Rightness

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594948
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725401 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594948.003.0001
The Deontic Relevance of Motives

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The topic of the deontic relevance of motives is introduced: can the motive of an action ever be the reason, or part of the reason, that the action is morally right or wrong? The deontic concepts of obligatory, wrong and merely permissible are explained and distinguished from other moral concepts such as moral worth, a virtue and a vice. Three arguments from the literature that seem to show that motives are never relevant deontically are presented. These arguments derive from deontologists like Kant and Ross, as well as from consequentialists like J. S. Mill. Certain apparent counterexamples to the assertion that motives are never relevant deontically are presented. There seems to be a plausible case for the claim that motives like malice and racism are sometimes wrong‐making.

Keywords: motives; deontic concepts; consequentialism; deontology; moral concepts; Kant; W. D. Ross; J. S. Mill; malice; racism

Chapter.  7231 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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