Intentions and Permissibility: A Confusion of Moral Categories?
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A common objection to the view that one’s intentions are non-derivatively relevant to the moral permissibility of one’s actions1 is that it confuses permissibility with other categories of moral evaluation, in particular, with blameworthiness or character assessment. The objection states that a failure to distinguish what one is permitted to do from what kind of a person one is, or from what one can be held blameworthy for, leads one to believe that intentions are relevant to permissibility when in fact they are only relevant to blameworthiness or to character assessment.2 Call this objection the Objection from Confusion (OFC).3
The OFC may not be the most important objection to the relevance of intentions to permissibility, but it is by far the most often cited one. The aim of this paper is to show that the OFC is mistaken. I shall defend two claims: first, that a confusion of moral categories is not the source of the view that intentions are relevant to permissibility...
KeywordsError Theory Moral Dimension Normative Reason Paradigm Case Operative Reason
For written comments on or discussions about earlier versions of this paper I am grateful to Selim Berker, Ulrike Heuer, Frances Kamm, János Kis, Ivan Milić, Edi Pavlović, Simon Rippon, Tim Scanlon, Victor Tadros, and to an anonymous reviewer of this journal.