Agent-Neutral Reasons: Are They for Everyone?

Utilitas 9 (02):249- (1997)
Abstract
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 reason. In fact normative theories may coherently restrict application scopes in other ways. Thus we must take seriously the possibility that the reason to promote the general happiness, although genuine, does not apply to everyone
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