About this topic
Summary Consequentialists hold that the permissibility of actions is a function of how their outcomes rank. On maximizing versions of consequentialism that function is such that a subject S is permitted to perform an act X if and only if there is no alternative act Y whose outcome ranks higher than X's outcome on S's ranking. Now, whereas agent-neutral consequentialists hold that outcomes rank the same for each agent, agent-relative consequentialists hold that there is potentially a different ranking for each agent. So let's consider examples of each type theory. First, consider act-utilitarianism (AU), which is a version of agent-neutral consequentialism. AU holds that one outcome ranks higher than another if and only if it contains more aggregate utility. So, on AU, a subject S is permitted to perform an act X if and only if there is no alternative act Y whose outcome contains more aggregate utility than X's outcome does. Next consider ethical egoism (EE), which is a version of agent-relative consequentialism. On EE, different agents will potentially rank the same set of outcomes differently. Suppose, for instance, that there are just two outcomes: O1 and O2. In O1, you have 10 units of utility and I have 5. In O2, things are reversed: you have 5 and I have 10. EE holds that, on your ranking, O1 outranks O2. But, on my ranking, O2 outranks O1. So, on EE, S is permitted to perform an act X if and only if there is no alternative act Y whose outcome contains more utility for S.
Key works Influential early papers include Sen 1983, Sen 1983, Regan 1983, and Dreier 1993. To understand the current state of the debate, see Schroeder 2007, Brown 2011, Dreier 2011, and Portmore 2011.
Introductions For a general introduction to the issue of consequentializing, see Portmore 2009.
  Show all references
Related categories
Siblings:
44 found
Search inside:
(import / add options)   Sort by:
  1. Elizabeth Ashford (2001). A Response to Splawn. Utilitas 13 (3):334-341.
    I argue that Sider's view does succeed in accommodating the kind of maximization he is after, according to which the agent is required to maximize overall welfare with the single exception of his own welfare. I then argue that Splawn's argument highlights some interesting and important ways in which Sider's view fail to capture basic common-sense intuitions concerning the self-other asymmetry, but offer a different diagnosis of the source of the problem.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  2. Marcia Baron (1997). Three Methods of Ethics: A Debate. Blackwell.
    Written in the form of a debate, this volume presents a clear survey and assessment of the main arguments, both for and against each of these three central ...
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  3. Campbell Brown (2011). Consequentialize This. Ethics 121 (4):749-771.
    To 'consequentialise' is to take a putatively non-consequentialist moral theory and show that it is actually just another form of consequentialism. Some have speculated that every moral theory can be consequentialised. If this were so, then consequentialism would be empty; it would have no substantive content. As I argue here, however, this is not so. Beginning with the core consequentialist commitment to 'maximising the good', I formulate a precise definition of consequentialism and demonstrate that, given this definition, several sorts of (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  4. James Dreier (2011). In Defense of Consequentializing. In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 1. Oxford University Press.
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  5. James Dreier (1993). Structures of Normative Theories. The Monist 76 (1):22-40.
    Normative theorists like to divide normative theories into classes. One special point of focus has been to place utilitarianism into a larger class of theories which do not necessarily share its view about what is alone of impersonal intrinsic value, namely, individual human well-being, but do share another structural feature, roughly its demand that each person seek to maximize the realization of what is of impersonal intrinsic value. The larger class is distinguished from its complement in two apparently different ways. (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  6. Frances Howard-Snyder (2012). Book Reviews Portmore , Douglas . Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. 266. $74.00 (Paper). [REVIEW] Ethics 123 (1):179-183.
  7. Jennie Louise (2004). Relativity of Value and the Consequentialist Umbrella. Philosophical Quarterly 54 (217):518–536.
    Does the real difference between non-consequentialist and consequentialist theories lie in their approach to value? Non-consequentialist theories are thought either to allow a different kind of value (namely, agent-relative value) or to advocate a different response to value ('honouring' rather than 'promoting'). One objection to this idea implies that all normative theories are describable as consequentialist. But then the distinction between honouring and promoting collapses into the distinction between relative and neutral value. A proper description of non-consequentialist theories can only (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  8. David McNaughton & Piers Rawling (1998). On Defending Deontology. Ratio 11 (1):37–54.
    This paper comprises three sections. First, we offer a traditional defence of deontology, in the manner of, for example, W.D. Ross (1965). The leading idea of such a defence is that the right is independent of the good. Second, we modify the now standard account of the distinction, in terms of the agent-relative/agentneutral divide, between deontology and consequentialism. (This modification is necessary if indirect consequentialism is to count as a form of consequentialism.) Third, we challenge a value-based defence of deontology (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  9. David McNaughton & Piers Rawling (1995). Agent-Relativity and Terminological Inexactitudes. Utilitas 7 (02):319-.
  10. David McNaughton & Piers Rawling (1995). Value and Agent-Relative Reasons. Utilitas 7 (01):31-.
  11. Martin Peterson (2010). A Royal Road to Consequentialism? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (2):153-169.
    To consequentialise a moral theory means to account for moral phenomena usually described in nonconsequentialist terms, such as rights, duties, and virtues, in a consequentialist framework. This paper seeks to show that all moral theories can be consequentialised. The paper distinguishes between different interpretations of the consequentialiser’s thesis, and emphasises the need for a cardinal ranking of acts. The paper also offers a new answer as to why consequentialising moral theories is important: This yields crucial methodological insights about how to (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  12. Martin Peterson (2010). Can Consequentialists Honour the Special Moral Status of Persons? Utilitas 22 (4):434-446.
    It is widely believed that consequentialists are committed to the claim that persons are mere containers for well-being. In this article I challenge this view by proposing a new version of consequentialism, according to which the identities of persons matter. The new theory, two-dimensional prioritarianism, is a natural extension of traditional prioritarianism. Two-dimensional prioritarianism holds that wellbeing matters more for persons who are at a low absolute level than for persons who are at a higher level and that it is (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  13. Douglas W. Portmore, Consequentializing Commonsense Morality.
    This is Chapter 4 of my Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality. In this chapter, I argue that that any plausible nonconsequentialist theory can be consequentialized, which is to say that, for any plausible nonconsequentialist theory, we can construct a consequentialist theory that yields the exact same set of deontic verdicts that it yields.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  14. Douglas W. Portmore, Chapter 5: Dual-Ranking Act-Consequentialism: Reasons, Morality, and Overridingness.
    This is Chapter 5 of my Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality. In this chapter, I argue that those who wish to accommodate typical instances of supererogation and agent-centered options must deny that moral reasons are morally overriding and accept both that the reason that agents have to promote their own self-interest is a non-moral reason and that this reason can, and sometimes does, prevent the moral reason that they have to sacrifice their self-interest so as to do more to (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  15. Douglas W. Portmore (forthcoming). Agent-Neutral and Agent-Relative. In J. E. Crimmins & D. C. Long (eds.), Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism.
    This is an introduction to the agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction as it pertains to utilitarianism.
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  16. Douglas W. Portmore (forthcoming). Precis of Commonsense Consequentialism and Replies to Gert, Hurley, and Tenenbaum. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    For a symposium on Douglas W. Portmore's Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  17. Douglas W. Portmore (2011). Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality. Oxford University Press.
    This is a book on morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, I defend a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  18. Douglas W. Portmore (2009). Consequentializing. Philosophy Compass 4 (2):329-347.
    A growing trend of thought has it that any plausible nonconsequentialist theory can be consequentialized, which is to say that it can be given a consequentialist representation. In this essay, I explore both whether this claim is true and what its implications are. I also explain the procedure for consequentializing a nonconsequentialist theory and give an account of the motivation for doing so.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  19. Douglas W. Portmore (2008). Dual-Ranking Act-Consequentialism. Philosophical Studies 138 (3):409 - 427.
    Dual-ranking act-consequentialism (DRAC) is a rather peculiar version of act-consequentialism. Unlike more traditional forms of act-consequentialism, DRAC doesn’t take the deontic status of an action to be a function of some evaluative ranking of outcomes. Rather, it takes the deontic status of an action to be a function of some non-evaluative ranking that is in turn a function of two auxiliary rankings that are evaluative. I argue that DRAC is promising in that it can accommodate certain features of commonsense morality (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  20. Douglas W. Portmore (2007). Consequentializing Moral Theories. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (1):39–73.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  21. Douglas W. Portmore (2005). Combining Teleological Ethics with Evaluator Relativism: A Promising Result. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86 (1):95–113.
    Consequentialism is an agent-neutral teleological theory, and deontology is an agent-relative non-teleological theory. I argue that a certain hybrid of the two—namely, non-egoistic agent-relative teleological ethics (NATE)—is quite promising. This hybrid takes what is best from both consequentialism and deontology while leaving behind the problems associated with each. Like consequentialism and unlike deontology, NATE can accommodate the compelling idea that it is always permissible to bring about the best available state of affairs. Yet unlike consequentialism and like deontology, NATE accords (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  22. Douglas W. Portmore (2003). Position‐Relative Consequentialism, Agent‐Centered Options, and Supererogation. Ethics 113 (2):303-332.
    In this paper, I argue that maximizing act-consequentialism (MAC)—the theory that holds that agents ought always to act so as to produce the best available state of affairs—can accommodate both agent-centered options and supererogatory acts. Thus I will show that MAC can accommodate the view that agents often have the moral option of either pursuing their own personal interests or sacrificing those interests for the sake of the impersonal good. And I will show that MAC can accommodate the idea that (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  23. Douglas W. Portmore (2001). Can an Act-Consequentialist Theory Be Agent Relative? American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (4):363-77.
    A theory is agent neutral if it gives every agent the same set of aims and agent relative otherwise. Most philosophers take act-consequentialism to be agent-neutral, but I argue that at the heart of consequentialism is the idea that all acts are morally permissible in virtue of their propensity to promote value and that, given this, it is possible to have a theory that is both agent-relative and act-consequentialist. Furthermore, I demonstrate that agent-relative act-consequentialism can avoid the counterintuitive implications associated (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  24. Douglas W. Portmore (1998). Can Consequentialism Be Reconciled with Our Common-Sense Moral Intuitions? Philosophical Studies 91 (1):1-19.
    Consequentialism is usually thought to be unable to accommodate many of our commonsense moral intuitions. In particular, it has seemed incompatible with the intuition that agents should not violate someone's rights even in order to prevent numerous others from committing comparable rights violations. Nevertheless, I argue that a certain form of consequentialism can accommodate this intuition: agent-relative consequentialism--the view according to which agents ought always to bring about what is, from their own individual perspective, the best available outcome. Moreover, I (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  25. B. C. Postow (1997). Agent-Neutral Reasons: Are They for Everyone? Utilitas 9 (02):249-.
    According to both deontologists and consequentialists, if there is a reason to promote the general happiness then the reason must apply to everyone. This view seems almost self-evident; to challenge it is to challenge the way we think of moral reasons. I contend, however, that the view depends on the unwarranted assumption that the only way to restrict the application scope of a reason for action is by restricting it to those agents whose interests or projects are involved in the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  26. Donald H. Regan (1983). Against Evaluator Relativity: A Response to Sen. Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (2):93-112.
  27. Mark Roojen (2013). Commonsense Consequentialism. By Douglas W. Portmore. (Oxford UP, 2011. Pp. Xi + 266. Price £27.50.). [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 63 (252):626-629.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  28. Benjamin Sachs (2010). Consequentialism's Double-Edged Sword. Utilitas 22 (3):258-271.
    Recent work on consequentialism has revealed it to be more flexible than previously thought. Consequentialists have shown how their theory can accommodate certain features with which it has long been considered incompatible, such as agent-centered constraints. This flexibility is usually thought to work in consequentialism’s favor. I want to cast doubt on this assumption. I begin by putting forward the strongest statement of consequentialism’s flexibility: the claim that, whatever set of intuitions the best nonconsequentialist theory accommodates, we can construct a (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  29. T. M. Scanlon (2001). Symposium on Amartya Sen's Philosophy: 3 Sen and Consequentialism. Economics and Philosophy 17 (1):39-50.
    It is a particular pleasure to be able to participate in this symposium in honor of Amartya Sen. We agree on a wide range of topics, but I will focus here on an area of relative disagreement. Sen is much more attracted to consequentialism than I am, and the main topic of my paper will be the particular version of consequentialism that he has articulated and the reasons why he is drawn to this view.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  30. Mark Schroeder (2007). Teleology, Agent‐Relative Value, and 'Good'. Ethics 117 (2):265-000.
    It is now generally understood that constraints play an important role in commonsense moral thinking and generally accepted that they cannot be accommodated by ordinary, traditional consequentialism. Some have seen this as the most conclusive evidence that consequentialism is hopelessly wrong,1 while others have seen it as the most conclusive evidence that moral common sense is hopelessly paradoxical.2 Fortunately, or so it is widely thought, in the last twenty-five years a new research program, that of Agent-Relative Teleology, has come to (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  31. Mark Schroeder (2006). Not so Promising After All: Evaluator-Relative Teleology and Common-Sense Morality. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (3):348–356.
    Douglas Portmore has recently argued in this journal for a "promising result" – that combining teleological ethics with "evaluator relativism" about the good allows an ethical theory to account for deontological intuitions while "accommodat[ing] the compelling idea that it is always permissible to bring about the best available state of affairs." I show that this result is false. It follows from the indexical semantics of evaluator relativism that Portmore's compelling idea is false. I also try to explain what might have (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  32. Amartya Sen (2000). Consequential Evaluation and Practical Reason. Journal of Philosophy 97 (9):477-502.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  33. Amartya Sen (1993). Positional Objectivity. Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (2):126-145.
  34. Amartya Sen (1983). Evaluator Relativity and Consequential Evaluation. Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (2):113-132.
  35. Amartya Sen (1982). Rights and Agency. Philosophy and Public Affairs 11 (1):3-39.
    This paper is about three distinct but interrelated problems: (1) the role 0f rights in moral theory, (2) thc characterization 0f agent relative values and their admissibility in consequ<—:ncc—bascd evaluation, and ( 3) the nature 0f moral evaluation 0f states 0f aihirs.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  36. Theodore Sider (1993). Asymmetry and Self-Sacrifice. Philosophical Studies 70 (2):117 - 132.
    Recent discussions of consequentialism have drawn our attention to the so-called “self-other” asymmetry. Various cases presented by Michael Slote and Michael Stocker are alleged to demonstrate a fundamental asymmetry between our obligations to others and ourselves.1 Moreover, these cases are taken to constitute a difficulty for consequentialism, and for the various versions of utilitarianism in particular. I agree that there is a fundamental asymmetry between our obligations to ourselves and to others, and that this fact is inconsistent with the letter (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  37. John Skorupski (1996). Neutral Versus Relative: A Reply to Broome, and McNaughton and Rawling. Utilitas 8 (02):235-.
  38. Michael Smith (2009). Kinds of Consequentialism. In Ernest Sosa & Enrique Villanueva (eds.), Metaethics. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.. 257-272.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  39. Michael Smith (2009). Kinds of Consequentialism. In Ernest Sosa & Enrique Villanueva (eds.), Metaethics. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.. 257-272.
  40. Clay Splawn (2001). “The Self-Other Asymmetry and Act Utilitarianism.”. Utilitas 13 (3):323-333.
    The self-other asymmetry is a prominent and important feature of common-sense morality. It is also a feature that does not find a home in standard versions of act-utilitarianism. Theodore Sider has attempted to make a place for it by constructing a novel version of utilitarianism that incorporates the asymmetry into its framework. So far as I know, it is the best attempt to bring the two together. I argue, however, that Sider's ingenious attempt fails. I also offer a diagnosis that (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  41. Jussi Suikkanen (2009). Consequentialism, Constraints and The Good-Relative-To: A Reply to Mark Schroeder. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (March 2009):1-9.
    Recently, it has been a part of the so-called consequentializing project to attempt to construct versions of consequentialism that can support agent-relative moral constraints. Mark Schroeder has argued that such views are bound to fail because they cannot make sense of the agent relative value on which they need to rely. In this paper, I provide a fitting-attitude account of both agent-relative and agent-neutral values that can together be used to consequentialize agent-relative constraints.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  42. Jean-Paul Vessel (2012). Portmore, Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), Pp. Xx + 266. [REVIEW] Utilitas 24 (04):551-554.
  43. Jean-Paul Vessel (2010). Supererogation for Utilitarianism. American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (4):299 - 319.
    Many believe that traditional consequentialist moral theories are incapable of incorporating the allegedly important phenomenon of supererogation. After surveying the “ties at the top,” “satisficing,” and “egoistic-adjustment” strategies to avoid the supererogation objection, I argue that a recent formulation of utilitarianism incorporating the self-other asymmetry exhibits interesting supererogatory properties. I then incorporate this asymmetry into a version of egoistically-adjusted act utilitarianism, arguing that such a view exhibits very rich supererogatory properties, properties that should assuage the theoretical worries of a vast (...)
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  44. Desheng Zong (2000). Agent Neutrality is the Exclusive Feature of Consequentialism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):676-693.
    An idea that has attracted a lot of attention lately is the thought that consequentialism is a theory characterized basically by its agent neutrality.1 The idea, however, has also met with skepticism. In particular, it has been argued that agent neutrality cannot be what separates consequentialism from other types of theories of reasons for action, since there can be agent-neutral non-consequentialist theories as well as agent-relative consequentialist theories. I will argue in this paper that this last claim is false. The (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation