Praise without Perfection:
A Dilemma for Right-Making Reasons
by Paulina Sliwa
When you don’t know what to do, you’d better find out. Sometimes the best way to find out is to ask for advice. And when you don’t know what the right thing to do is, it’s sometimes good to rely on moral advice. So much should be uncontroversial.
Yet this straightforward thought spells serious trouble for a popular and widespread approach to moral worth: on this approach, agents deserve moral praise for a right action only if they are acting on right-making reasons.
The first part of this paper argues that cases of moral advice present right-making reasons accounts with a dilemma: depending on how we make the right-making relation precise, we either have to deny that agents who seek out and follow moral advice are morally praiseworthy or we have to credit morally wrong actions by unsavory characters with moral worth. This casts doubt on the claim that acting on right-making reasons can be both necessary and sufficient for moral worth.