Two Kinds of Moral Competence: Moral Agent, Moral Judge

  • Florian Cova
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 31)


In this paper, I argue that some of the disagreements about the continuity or discontinuity of human moral life with that of animals can be assuaged by drawing a distinction between two senses in which someone can be a ‘moral being’: being a moral agent (i.e. being morally responsible for one’s action) and being a moral judge (i.e. being able to form moral judgments). More precisely, I argue that it is not necessary to be a moral judge to be a moral agent, because moral actions (actions we are morally responsible for) don’t need to stem from moral judgments. Consequently, I argue that, even if moral judgment is highly likely to be a human specificity, moral agency is something that we might share with other animals, given that the only requisite to be a moral agent is to be able to be motivated by the fact that other entities do have interests.


Moral Judgment Moral Responsibility Moral Agent Epistemic Condition Peanut Butter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported in part by a Grant from the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) (ANR Blanche: SoCoDev). I thank François Jacquet and an anonymous reviewer for useful comments on previous versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Center for Affective SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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