“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”

Instant Access to Thousands of Journals for just $40/month

Try 2 weeks free now

Saints, heroes, sages, and villains



This essay explores the question of how to be good. My starting point is a thesis about moral worth that I’ve defended in the past: roughly, that an action is morally worthy if and only it is performed for the reasons why it is right. While I think that account gets at one important sense of moral goodness, I argue here that it fails to capture several ways of being worthy of admiration on moral grounds. Moral goodness is more multi-faceted. My title is intended to capture that multi-facetedness: the essay examines saintliness, heroism, and sagacity. The variety of our common-sense moral ideals underscores the inadequacy of any one account of moral admirableness, and I hope to illuminate the distinct roles these ideals play in our everyday understanding of goodness. Along the way, I give an account of what makes actions heroic, of whether such actions are supererogatory, and of what, if anything, is wrong with moral deference. At the close of the essay, I begin to explore the flipside of these ideals: villainy.



Philosophical StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 1, 2012

DOI: 10.1007/s11098-012-9883-x

Free Preview of First Page

Loading next page...

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.

DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy unlimited access and
personalized recommendations from
over 12 million articles from more than
10,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $40/month

Try 2 weeks free now

Explore the DeepDyve Library

How DeepDyve Works

Spend time researching, not time worrying you’re buying articles that might not be useful.

Unlimited reading

Read as many articles as you need. Full articles with original layout, charts and figures. Read online, from anywhere.

Stay up to date

Keep up with your field with Personalized Recommendations and Follow Journals to get automatic updates.

Organize your research

It’s easy to organize your research with our built-in tools.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from Springer, Elsevier, Nature, IEEE, Wiley-Blackwell and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

Simple and Affordable Pricing

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime, with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Monthly Plan

  • Read unlimited articles
  • Personalized recommendations
  • Print 20 pages per month
  • 20% off on PDF purchases
  • Organize your research
  • Get updates on your journals and topic searches


Best Deal — 25% off

Annual Plan

  • All the features of the Professional Plan, but for 25% off!
  • For the normal price of 10 articles elsewhere, you get one full year of unlimited access to articles.

billed annually