David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):241-251 (2009)
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 an action to be right, wrong, or indifferent; and finally, a specification of what is in the domain of the deontic principle. For example, mental state and desire theories provide different accounts of the first element; maximizing and satisficing are distinct deontic principles; and Act and Rule Consequentialism specify different domains over which a deontic principle ranges. A wide range of alternative theories can be generated by modifying these three elements. For example, Hedonistic Act Utilitarianism which requires that each act maximize pleasure, and Perfectionist Lifetime Minimalism which requires that each life satisfy some minimal standard of perfection are both varieties of Consequentialsm. The conceptual space Consequentialism describes is vast, versions of Consequentialism vary radically in their plausibility, and few objections count against all versions of Consequentialism
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