Accidentally Doing the Right Thing

This paper is about moral worth. I defend the view that an act has moral worth only if its agent did the right thing because it's the right thing to do, and I criticize the view that an act can have moral worth if its agent does the right thing because of its right-making features. All parties to this dispute agree that an act lacks moral worth if it is an instance of someone's merely accidentally doing the right thing. So defend I a general account of what it is to do something accidentally, and use it to support my view. I focus on cases in which agents have no idea that their acts possess a certain property, including the much-discussed case of Huckleberry Finn (who has no idea that his act is morally right); my position is that having no idea that one's act is F is sufficient for accidentally doing an F thing. 

Here's the penultimate version of the paper.

The final version of this paper is forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Please cite the published version, rather than this one.

I previously presented this paper at the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress 2017, at the USC/UCLA Graduate Conference in 2017, at the Great Plains Philosophy Symposium in 2016. I also gave a version of it as my job talk to the philosophy departments at USC, Notre Dame, Simon Fraser, Florida State University, McGill, the University of Miami, the University of Chicago, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. I am very grateful to participants in all of these discussions for their formative feedback.