, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 405–415 | Cite as

Motive and Right Action

  • Liezl van ZylEmail author


Some philosophers believe that a change in motive alone is sometimes sufficient to bring about a change in the deontic status (rightness or wrongness) of an action. I refer to this position as ‘weak motivism’, and distinguish it from ‘strong’ and ‘partial motivism’. I examine a number of cases where our intuitive judgements appear to support the weak motivist’s thesis, and argue that in each case an alternative explanation can be given for why a change in motive brings about (or, in some cases, appears to bring about) a change in deontic status.


Motive Motivism Right action Permissibility Good action Virtue ethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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