Teleology, Deontology, and the Priority of the Right: On Some Unappreciated Distinctions [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):453 - 472 (2010)
Abstract
The paper analyses Rawls's teleology/deontology distinction, and his concept of priority of the right. The first part of the paper aims both 1) to clarify what is distinctive about Rawls's deontology/teleology distinction (thus sorting out some existing confusion in the literature, especially regarding the conflation of such distinction with that between consequentialism and nonconsequentialism); and 2) to cash out the rich taxonomy of moral theories that such a distinction helpfully allows us to develop. The second part of the paper examines the concept of priority of the right. It argues that such a concept should not be identified with that of deontology— indeed, deontological theories do not necessarily assign priority to the right over the good. However, it contends that the concept of priority of the right is essential to explaining what specific kind of deontological theory "justice as fairness" is. Justice as fairness is a deontological theory which assigns priority to the right as a consequence of its commitment to a neutral position with respect to different accounts of what is ultimately valuable and good
Keywords Right/good distinction  John Rawls  Justice as fairness  Neutrality  Utilitarianism  Consequentialism vs nonconsequentialism
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