Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 11, pp 2951–2968 | Cite as

Moral uncertainty and fetishistic motivation

  • Andrew SepielliEmail author


Sometimes it’s not certain which of several mutually exclusive moral views is correct. Like almost everyone, I think that there’s some sense in which what one should do depends on which of these theories is correct, plus the way the world is non-morally. But I also think there’s an important sense in which what one should do depends upon the probabilities of each of these views being correct. Call this second claim “moral uncertaintism”. In this paper, I want to address an argument against moral uncertaintism offered in the pages of this journal by Brian Weatherson, and seconded elsewhere by Brian Hedden, the crucial premises of which are: (1) that acting on moral uncertaintist norms necessarily involves motivation by reasons or rightness as such, and (2) that such motivation is bad. I will argue that (1) and (2) are false, and that at any rate, the quality of an agent’s motivation is not pertinent to the truth or falsity of moral uncertaintism in the way that Weatherson’s and Hedden’s arguments require.


Moral uncertainty Fetishism Moral motivation Brian Weatherson Brian Hedden Michael Smith 



This research was funded by a University of Toronto Connaught Junior Researcher Award.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The researcher declares that he has no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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