On the Paradox of Deontology

Deontological moral theories may forbid a particular action in certain circumstances even though performing it would result in fewer actions of the forbidden type. This is the paradox of deontology, and the first two sections of the essay explicate this paradox and criticize some ways in which deontologists have responded to it. Thereafter, however, I come to the assistance of the deontologist. The third and fourth sections discuss the conditions that must be met before this paradox poses a genuine problem and the likelihood of those conditions being satisfied. Then, with a nod to rule utilitarianism, I show that the deontologist has an important, albeit pragmatic line of rebuttal, which in conjunction with other considerations raised in the essay can assist nonconsequentialists to disarm the paradox of deontology
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DOI 10.5840/jpr_1991_13
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