Consequentialism and the Autonomy of the Deontic

Utilitas 20 (2):199-216 (2008)
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 that respects the autonomy of the deontic must entail that an object that meets that criterion is an action, and anti-reductionist consequentialism does not meet that requirement (while certain competing theories arguably do)
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820808002999
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