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Summary Consequentialism comes in several different varieties. Besides some of the more well-known varieties (such as rule-consequentialism, satisficing consequentialism, subjective consequentialism, and agent-relative consequentialism), there are several lesser known varieties: such as virtue consequentialism (Bradley 2005), combinative consequentialism (Gustafsson 2014), progressive consequentialism (Jamieson & Elliot 2009), multiple-act consequentialism (Mendola 2006), multi-dimensional consequentialism (Peterson 2013), attitude-consequentialism (Portmore manuscript), person-based consequentialism (Roberts 2003), commonsense consequentialism (Portmore 2011), global consequentialism (Pettit & Smith 2000), justicized consequentialism (Wigley 2012), and more -- scroll below.
Key works See above.
Introductions Two good introductions to the many varieties of consequentialism are Portmore 2011 and Brink 2005.
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  1. Don Adams (2004). Aquinas and Modern Consequentialism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (4):395 – 417.
    Because the moral philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas is egoistic while modern consequentialism is impartialistic, it might at first appear that the former cannot, while the latter can, provide a common value on the basis of which inter-personal conflicts may be settled morally. On the contrary, in this paper I intend to argue not only that Aquinas' theory does provide just such a common value, but that it is more true to say of modern consequentialism than of Thomism that it (...)
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  2. David Alm (2008). Consequentialism and the Autonomy of the Deontic. Utilitas 20 (2):199-216.
    I distinguish between two forms of consequentialism: reductionist and anti-reductionist. Reductionist consequentialism holds that the deontic properties of rightness and wrongness are identical with the axiological properties of optimality and suboptimality, respectively. Anti-reductionist consequentialism denies this identification, hence accepting what I call the autonomy of the deontic. In this article I ignore reductionist consequentialism. Instead I argue that anti-reductionist consequentialism is deeply problematic or even incoherent. Simply put, the main point is that the criterion of rightness of any ethical theory (...)
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  3. Frank Arntzenius & David McCarthy (1997). Self Torture and Group Beneficence. Erkenntnis 47 (1):129-144.
    Moral puzzles about actions which bring about very small or what are said to be imperceptible harms or benefits for each of a large number of people are well known. Less well known is an argument by Warren Quinn that standard theories of rationality can lead an agent to end up torturing himself or herself in a completely foreseeable way, and that this shows that standard theories of rationality need to be revised. We show where Quinn's argument goes wrong, and (...)
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  4. Robin Attfield (2005). Biocentric Consequentialism and Value-Pluralism: A Response to Alan Carter. Utilitas 17 (1):85-92.
    My theory of biocentric consequentialism is first shown not to be significantly inegalitarian, despite not advocating treating all creatures equally. I then respond to Carter's objections concerning population, species extinctions, the supposed minimax implication, endangered interests, autonomy and thought-experiments. Biocentric consequentialism is capable of supporting a sustainable human population at a level compatible with preserving most non-human species, as opposed to catastrophic population increases or catastrophic decimation. Nor is it undermined by the mere conceivable possibility of counter-intuitive implications. While Carter (...)
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  5. Robin Attfield (2003). Biocentric Consequentialism, Pluralism, and 'The Minimax Implication': A Reply to Alan Carter. Utilitas 15 (01):76-.
    Alan Carter's recent review in Mind of my Ethics of the Global Environment combines praise of biocentric consequentialism (as presented there and in Value, Obligation and Meta-Ethics) with criticisms that it could advocate both minimal satisfaction of human needs and the extinction of for the sake of generating extra people; Carter also maintains that as a monistic theory it is predictably inadequate to cover the full range of ethical issues, since only a pluralistic theory has this capacity. In this reply, (...)
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  6. Selim Berker (2013). Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions. Philosophical Review 122 (3):337-393.
    When it comes to epistemic normativity, should we take the good to be prior to the right? That is, should we ground facts about what we ought and ought not believe on a given occasion in facts about the value of being in certain cognitive states (such as, for example, the value of having true beliefs)? The overwhelming answer among contemporary epistemologists is “Yes, we should.” This essay argues to the contrary. Just as taking the good to be prior to (...)
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  7. David Braddon-Mitchell, Freedom and Binding Consequentialism.
    The paper proposes a new version of direct act consequentialism that will provide the same evaluations of the rightness of acts as indirect disposition, motive or character consequentialism, thus reconciling the coherence of direct consequentialism with the plausible results in cases of indirect consequentialism. This is achieved by seeing that adopting certain kinds of moral dispositions causally constrains our future acts, so that the maximizing acts ruled out by the disposition can no longer be chosen. Thus when we act we (...)
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  8. Ben Bradley (2005). Virtue Consequentialism. Utilitas 17 (3):282-298.
    Virtue consequentialism has been held by many prominent philosophers, but has never been properly formulated. I criticize Julia Driver's formulation of virtue consequentialism and offer an alternative. I maintain that according to the best version of virtue consequentialism, attributions of virtue are really disguised comparisons between two character traits, and the consequences of a trait in non-actual circumstances may affect its actual status as a virtue or vice. Such a view best enables the consequentialist to account for moral luck, unexemplified (...)
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  9. David O. Brink (2005). Some Forms and Limits of Consequentialism. In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oup Usa.
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  10. Campbell Brown (2005). Blameless Wrongdoing and Agglomeration: A Response to Streumer. Utilitas 17 (2):222-225.
    Bart Streumer argues that a certain variety of consequentialism – he calls it ‘semi-global consequentialism’ – is false on account of its falsely implying the possibility of ‘blameless wrongdoing’. This article shows (i) that Streumer's argument is nothing new; (ii) that his presentation of the argument is misleading, since it suppresses a crucial premiss, commonly called ‘agglomeration’; and (iii) that, for all Streumer says, the proponent of semi-global consequentialism may easily resist his argument by rejecting agglomeration.
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  11. Erik Carlson (1999). Consequentialism, Alternatives, and Actualism. Philosophical Studies 96 (3):253-268.
  12. Alan Carter (2005). Inegalitarian Biocentric Consequentialism, the Minimax Implication and Multidimensional Value Theory: A Brief Proposal for a New Direction in Environmental Ethics. Utilitas 17 (1):62-84.
    Perhaps the most impressive environmental ethic developed to date in any detail is Robin Attfield's biocentric consequentialism. Indeed, on first study, it appears sufficiently impressive that, before presenting any alternative theoretical approach, one would first need to establish why one should not simply embrace Attfield's. After outlining a seemingly decisive flaw in his theory, and then criticizing his response to it, this article adumbrates a very different theoretical basis for an environmental ethic: namely, a value-pluralist one. In so doing, it (...)
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  13. Peter Caws (1995). Minimal Consequentialism. Philosophy 70 (273):313 - 339.
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  14. Richard Yetter Chappell (2012). Fittingness: The Sole Normative Primitive. Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):684 - 704.
    This paper draws on the 'Fitting Attitudes' analysis of value to argue that we should take the concept of fittingness (rather than value) as our normative primitive. I will argue that the fittingness framework enhances the clarity and expressive power of our normative theorising. Along the way, we will see how the fittingness framework illuminates our understanding of various moral theories, and why it casts doubt on the Global Consequentialist idea that acts and (say) eye colours are normatively on a (...)
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  15. Michael Cholbi (2013). Dimensions of Consequentialism: Ethics, Equality, and Risk. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2013:1-2.
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  16. Dennis R. Cooley (2000). Readjusting Utility for Justice. Journal of Philosophical Research 25:363-380.
    Despite the best efforts of utilitarians, justice remains a serious problem for consequentialism. Many counterexamples have been described which show that an agent may be obligated to do a gross injustice, according to hedonic utilitarianism, just because it maximizes utility. Fred Feldman attempts to avoid this result by adjusting utility for justice.In this paper, I examine Feldman’s axiology and his normative theory of world utilitarianism, and show that, ultimately, he is not successful in his endeavor. Though Feldman’s theories may not (...)
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  17. David Cummiskey (2009). Joseph Mendola, Goodness and Justice: A Consequentialist Moral Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Pp. IX + 326. Utilitas 21 (4):521-525.
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  18. David Cummiskey (1990). Kantian Consequentialism. Ethics 100 (3):586-615.
    The central problem for normative ethics is the conflict between a consequentialist view--that morality requires promoting the good of all--and a belief that the rights of the individual place significant constraints on what may be done to help others. Standard interpretations see Kant as rejecting all forms of consequentialism, and defending a theory which is fundamentally duty-based and agent-centered. Certain actions, like sacrificing the innocent, are categorically forbidden. In this original and controversial work, Cummiskey argues that there is no defensible (...)
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  19. Richard Dean (2000). Cummiskey's Kantian Consequentialism. Utilitas 12 (01):25-.
    In Kantian Consequentialism, David Cummiskey argues that the central ideas of Kant's moral philosophy provide claims about value which, if applied consistently, lead to consequentialist normative principles. While Kant himself was not a consequentialist, Cummiskey thinks he should have been, given his fundamental positions in ethics. I argue that Cummiskey is mistaken. Cummiskey's argument relies on a non-Kantian idea about value, namely that value can be defined, and objects with value identified, conceptually prior to and independent of the choices that (...)
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  20. Lara Denis (1998). Kantian Consequentialism. Philosophical Review 107 (1):130-133.
  21. Ben Eggleston (2005). Reformulating Consequentialism: Railton's Normative Ethics. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 126 (3):449 - 462.
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  22. Fred Feldman (1995). Adjusting Utility for Justice: A Consequentialist Reply to the Objection From Justice. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (3):567-585.
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  23. Holly S. Goldman (1978). The 'Collective' Interpretation of Utilitarian Generalization. Philosophical Studies 34 (2):207 - 209.
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  24. Holly S. Goldman (1976). Reply to Silverstein. Philosophical Studies 30 (1):57 - 61.
  25. Robert Guay, Forms of Consequentialism. Copyright ©2003.
    In consequentialist theories, the good is usually defined in non-moral terms (i.e., as that which persons in fact like, desire, seek out, enjoy), and the right is characterized in terms of maximizing the good. The good is usually defined “impartially,” that is, as the good for everyone rather than for an individual. But this need not be the case: as we see with Bentham, the good that the individual (as opposed to the legislator) is concerned with is his or her (...)
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  26. Johan E. Gustafsson (2014). Combinative Consequentialism and the Problem of Act Versions. Philosophical Studies 167 (3):585–596.
    In the 1960’s, Lars Bergström and Hector-Neri Castañeda noticed a problem with alternative acts and consequentialism. The source of the problem is that some performable acts are versions of other performable acts and the versions need not have the same consequences as the originals. Therefore, if all performable acts are among the agent’s alternatives, act consequentialism yields deontic paradoxes. A standard response is to restrict the application of act consequentialism to certain relevant alternative sets. Many proposals are based on some (...)
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  27. Edmund Henden (2007). Restrictive Consequentialism and Real Friendship. Ratio 20 (2):179–193.
    A familiar objection to restrictive consequentialism is that a restrictive consequentialist is incapable of having true friendships. In this paper I distinguish between an instrumentalist and a non-instrumentalist version of this objection and argue that while the restrictive consequentialist can answer the non-instrumentalist version, restrictive consequentialism may still seem vulnerable to the instrumentalist version. I then suggest a consequentialist reply that I argue also works against this version of the objection. Central to this reply is the claim that a restrictive (...)
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  28. Frances Howard-Snyder (1994). The Heart of Consequentialism. Philosophical Studies 76 (1):107 - 129.
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  29. Donald C. Hubin (2008). The Limits of Consequentialism. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 10:167-176.
    Modern consequentialism is a very broad theory. Consequentialists can invoke a distribution sensitive theory of value to address the issues of distributive justice that bedeviled utilitarianism. They can attach intrinsic moral value to such acts truth-telling and promise-keeping and, so, acknowledge the essential moral significance of such acts in a way that classical utilitarianism could not. It can appear that there are no limits to consequentialism’s ability to respond to the criticisms against utilitarian theories by embracing a sophisticated theory of (...)
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  30. Philip J. Ivanhoe (1991). Character Consequentialism: An Early Confucian Contribution to Contemporary Ethical Theory. Journal of Religious Ethics 19 (1):55 - 70.
    Early Confucian ethics can best be understood as character consequentialism, an ethical theory concerned with the effects actions have upon the cultivation of virtues and which concentrates on certain psychological goods, particularly certain kinship relationships which it regards not only as intrinsically but also instrumentally valuable, as the source of more general social virtues. According to character consequentialism, the way to maximize the good is to maximize the number of virtuous individuals in society, but because human virtues cannot be cultivated (...)
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  31. Frank Jackson (1991). Decision-Theoretic Consequentialism and the Nearest and Dearest Objection. Ethics 101 (3):461-482.
  32. Dale Jamieson & Robert Elliot (2009). Progressive Consequentialism. Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):241-251.
    Consequentialism is the family of theories that holds that acts are morally right, wrong, or indifferent in virtue of their consequences. Less formally and more intuitively, right acts are those that produce good consequences. A consequentialist theory includes at least the following three elements: an account of the properties or states in virtue of which consequences make actions right, wrong, or indifferent; a deontic principle which specifies how or to what extent the properties or states must obtain in order for (...)
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  33. Joel J. Kupperman (1980). Vulgar Consequentialism. Mind 89 (355):321-337.
  34. Gerald Lang (2013). Should Utilitarianism Be Scalar? Utilitas 25 (1):80-95.
    Scalar utilitarianism, a form of utilitarianism advocated by Alastair Norcross, retains utilitarianism's evaluative commitments while dispensing with utilitarianism's deontic commitments, or its commitment to the existence or significance of moral duties, obligations and requirements. This article disputes the effectiveness of the arguments that have been used to defend scalar utilitarianism. It is contended that Norcross's central does not succeed, and it is suggested, more positively, that utilitarians cannot easily distance themselves from deontic assessment, just as long as scalar utilitarians admit (...)
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  35. Rob Lawlor (2009). The Rejection of Scalar Consequentialism. Utilitas 21 (1):100-116.
    In Alastair Norcross argues that scalar consequentialism is the most plausible form of consequentialism, but his arguments are flawed: he is simply mistaken when he suggests that there is a problem with deriving absolutes like right and wrong from gradable properties such as goodness; he cannot justify his claim that the choice of a threshold will always be arbitrary; and his argument only shows that the consequentialist doesn't care about permissibility. Furthermore, I argue that, although Norcross was right to claim (...)
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  36. Elinor Mason (2007). Review of Joseph Mendola, Goodness and Justice: A Consequentialist Moral Theory. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (8).
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  37. Elinor Mason (2002). Against Blameless Wrongdoing. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (3):287-303.
    I argue against the standard view that it is possible to describe extensionally different consequentialist theories by describing different evaluative focal points. I argue that for consequentialist purposes, the important sense of the word act must include all motives and side effects, and thus these things cannot be separated.
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  38. Kris McDaniel, Jason R. Raibley, Richard Feldman & Michael J. Zimmerman (eds.) (2005). The Good, the Right, Life And Death: Essays in Honor of Fred Feldman. Ashgate.
  39. Brian Mcelwee (2010). Consequentialism and Permissibility. Utilitas 22 (2):171-183.
    Scalar consequentialism, recently championed by Alastair Norcross, holds that the value of an action varies according to the goodness of its consequences, but eschews all judgements of moral permissibility and impermissibility. I show that the strongest version of scalar consequentialism is not vulnerable to the objection that it is insufficiently action-guiding. Instead, the principle objection to the scalar view is simply that it leaves out important and interesting ethical judgements. In demonstrating this, I counter Rob Lawlor's contention that consequentialists cannot (...)
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  40. Joseph Mendola (2006). Goodness and Justice: A Consequentialist Moral Theory. Cambridge University Press.
    In Goodness and Justice, Joseph Mendola develops a unified moral theory that defends the hedonism of classical utilitarianism while evading utilitarianism's familiar difficulties by two modifications. His theory incorporates a new form of consequentialism. When, as is common, someone is engaged in conflicting group acts, it requires that one perform the role in that group that is most beneficent. The theory holds that overall value is distribution-sensitive, ceding maximum weight to the well-being of the worst-off sections of sentient lives. It (...)
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  41. Joseph Mendola (2006). Multiple-Act Consequentialism. Noûs 40 (3):395–427.
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  42. Joseph Mendola (2005). Consequentialism, Group Acts, and Trolleys. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86 (1):64–87.
    Its relentless pursuit of the good provides act-consequentialism with one sort of intuitive ethical rationale. But more indirect forms of consequentialism promise more intuitive normative implications, for instance the evil of even beneficent murders. I favor a middle way which combines the intuitive rationale of act-consequentialism and the intuitive normative implications of the best indirect forms. Multiple-Act Consequentialism or ‘MAC’ requires direct consequentialist evaluation of the options of group agents. It holds that one should only defect from a group act (...)
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  43. Seiriol Morgan (2009). Can There Be a Kantian Consequentialism? Ratio 22 (1):19-40.
    In On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that we need to make a significant reassessment of the relationship between some central positions in moral philosophy, because, contrary to received opinion, Kantians, contractualists and consequentialists are all 'climbing the same mountain on different sides'. In Parfit's view Kant's own attempt to outline an account of moral obligation fails, but when it is modified in ways entirely congenial to his thinking, a defensible Kantian contractualism can be produced, which survives the objections which (...)
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  44. Tim Mulgan (2006). Future People: A Moderate Consequentialist Account of Our Obligations to Future Generations. Oxford University Press.
    What do we owe to our descendants? How do we balance their needs against our own? Tim Mulgan develops a new theory of our obligations to future generations, based on a new rule-consequentialist account of the morality of individual reproduction. He also brings together several different contemporary philosophical discussions, including the demands of morality and international justice. His aim is to produce a coherent, intuitively plausible moral theory that is not unreasonably demanding, even when extended to cover future people. While (...)
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  45. Tim Mulgan (2001). The Demands of Consequentialism. Oxford University Press.
    Tim Mulgan presents a penetrating examination of consequentialism: the theory that human behavior must be judged in terms of the goodness or badness of its consequences. The problem with consequentialism is that it seems unreasonably demanding, leaving us no room for our own aims and interests. In response, Mulgan offers his own, more practical version of consequentialism--one that will surely appeal to philosophers and laypersons alike.
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  46. Tim Mulgan (1993). The Unhappy Conclusion and the Life of Virtue. Philosophical Quarterly 44 (172):357-359.
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  47. Alastair Norcross (2006). “The Scalar Approach to Utilitarianism”. In Henry West (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Mill's Utilitarianism. Wiley-Blackwell. 217--32.
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  48. Alastair Norcross (2005). Contextualism for Consequentialists. Acta Analytica 20 (2):80-90.
    If, as I have argued elsewhere, consequentialism is not fundamentally concerned with such staples of moral theory as rightness, duty, obligation, moral requirements, goodness (as applied to actions), and harm, what, if anything, does it have to say about such notions? While such notions have no part to play at the deepest level of the theory, they may nonetheless be of practical significance. By way of explanation I provide a linguistic contextualist account of these notions. A contextualist approach to all (...)
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  49. Alastair Norcross (1997). Good and Bad Actions. Philosophical Review 106 (1):1-34.
    It is usually assumed to be possible, and sometimes even desirable, for consequentialists to make judgments about both the rightness and the goodness of actions. Whether a particular action is right or wrong is one question addressed by a consequentialist theory such as utilitarianism. Whether the action is good or bad, and how good or bad it is, are two others. I will argue in this paper that consequentialism cannot provide a satisfactory account of the goodness of actions, on the (...)
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  50. S. Jack Odell (2001). Practice Consequentialism: A New Twist on an Old Theory. Utilitas 13 (01):86-.
    In this paper I defend a version of consequentialism that is neither of the act nor the rule variety. I argue that most, if not all, acceptable moral rules are formulations of intricate and interrelated practices that serve to promote harmonious co-existence between human beings; that these formulations are shorthand abbreviations of the lengthy formulations which would be required to actually describe the extremely complicated set of prescriptions and prohibitions which comprise our ethical practices; that we are culturally, perhaps even (...)
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