David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Review 106 (1):1-34 (1997)
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 most natural approach to the question. I will also argue that, strictly speaking, a consequentialist cannot judge one action to be better or worse than another action performed at a different time or by a different person. Even if such theories are thought to be primarily concerned with rightness, this would be surprising, but in the light of recent work challenging the place of rightness in consequentialism1, it seems particularly disturbing. If actions are neither right (or wrong) nor good (or bad), what moral judgments do apply to them? Doesn't the rejection of both rightness and goodness, as applied to actions, leave consequentialism unacceptably impoverished? On the contrary, I will argue that consequentialism is actually strengthened by the realization that actions can only be judged as better or worse than possible alternatives.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
James Lenman (2000). Consequentialism and Cluelessness. Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (4):342–370.
Michael Ferry (2013). Does Morality Demand Our Very Best? On Moral Prescriptions and the Line of Duty. Philosophical Studies 165 (2):573-589.
Tyler Cowen (2011). Rule Consequentialism Makes Sense After All. Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (2):212-231.
Elise Springer (2008). Moral Feedback and Motivation: Revisiting the Undermining Effect. [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (4):407 - 423.
James Lenman (2000). Consequentialism and Cluelessness. Philosophy Public Affairs 29 (4):342-370.
Similar books and articles
James R. Beebe & Mark Jensen (2012). Surprising Connections Between Knowledge and Action: The Robustness of the Epistemic Side-Effect Effect. Philosophical Psychology 25 (5):689 - 715.
Frances Howard-Snyder & Alastair Norcross (1993). A Consequentialist Case for Rejecting the Right. Journal of Philosophical Research 18:109-125.
Alastair Norcross (2005). Contextualism for Consequentialists. Acta Analytica 20 (2):80-90.
Peter Vallentyne (1988). Teleology, Consequentialism, and the Past. Journal of Value Inquiry 22 (2):89-101.
David McNaughton, Florida State University & Piers Rawling (2007). Deontology. In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. OUP Usa
Peter Vallentyne (2000). Critical Notice of Child Versus Childmaker: Future Persons and Present Duties in Ethics and the Law. Noûs 34 (4):634–647.
Kalle Grill (2007). The Normative Core of Paternalism. Res Publica 13 (4):441-458.
Liezl van Zyl (2011). Rightness and Goodness in Agent-Based Virtue Ethics. Journal of Philosophical Research 36:103-114.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads58 ( #58,900 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #118,705 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?