Ethics Seminar: "A Puzzle about Moral Worth"

Jessica Isserow (Australian National University) will speak to the Centre for Ethics and Metaethics about "A Puzzle about Moral Worth". All welcome!

Date: 26-04-2017
Time: 15:00 - 17:00

Jessica Isserow's research interests focus on moral philosophy. She is completing a PhD thesis on the moral error theory at the Australian National University. 


The task for an account of moral worth is to elaborate the conditions under which an agent is praiseworthy for having done the right thing. If such an account is to be plausible, then it must satisfy two desiderata. First, it must vindicate the highly intuitive idea that praiseworthy agents do not do the right thing by accident. Second, it must count as relevant to assessments of moral worth only what is relevant: the motives that led the agent to act as she did. Kantian conceptions of moral worth are commonly thought to have a unique advantage over their rivals in satisfying both desiderata. In this paper, I argue that this is the wrong diagnosis of the state of play. There is in fact an inherent tension between the two constraints; no conception—Kantian or otherwise—can satisfy one without running afoul of the other. If we are to resolve the tension, then I propose that we must reconsider the kind of accidentality that really matters to us in our assessments of moral worth. Once we appreciate the kind of accidentality worth caring about, we see that the Kantian conception enjoys no unique advantage.  

Location: Botany House 1.03
Cost: Free