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Ethical theories often have a “theory of the good” and a “theory of the right”. A theory of the good is a theory about what kinds of things are of moral value. In contrast, a theory of the right is a theory about what we morally ought to do. Some moral theories hold that what it is right for us to do depends only how much good our actions will produce. By contrast, other theories hold that what it is right for us to do is only partially determined by goodness, and is also subject to other constraints.

What we think is of moral value can also depend on the meta-ethical position that we hold, since this can affect what the source of value is: for example, whether ethical value depends on what people value, or if it is mind-independent.

We might therefore find ourselves uncertain about what is of ethical value, because we are uncertain about the correct theory of the good, about which moral theories are true, and about which meta-ethical positions are true. We may need to take this uncertainty about what is of value into account when making moral decisions.