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  1. added 2020-09-11
    A New Counterexample to Prioritarianism.Toby Ord - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (3):298-302.
    Prioritarianism is the moral view that a fixed improvement in someone's well-being matters more the worse off they are. Its supporters argue that it best captures our intuitions about unequal distributions of well-being. I show that prioritarianism sometimes recommends acts that will make things more unequal while simultaneously lowering the total well-being and making things worse for everyone ex ante. Intuitively, there is little to recommend such acts and I take this to be a serious counterexample for prioritarianism.
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  2. added 2019-09-19
    The Alienation Objection to Consequentialism.Barry Maguire & Calvin Baker - forthcoming - In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. OUP.
    An ethical theory is alienating if accepting the theory inhibits the agent from fitting participation in some normative ideal, such as some ideal of integrity, friendship, or community. Many normative ideals involve non-consequentialist behavior of some form or another. If such ideals are normatively authoritative, they constitute counterexamples to consequentialism unless their authority can be explained or explained away. We address a range of attempts to avoid such counterexamples and argue that consequentialism cannot by itself account for the normative authority (...)
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  3. added 2019-09-19
    Ways to Be Blameworthy: Rightness, Wrongness, and Responsibility.Elinor Mason - 2019 - Oxford University Press.
    Elinor Mason draws on ethics and responsibility theory to present a pluralistic view of both wrongness and blameworthiness. Mason argues that our moral concepts, rightness and wrongness, must be connected to our responsibility concepts. But the connection is not simple. She identifies three different ways to be blameworthy, corresponding to different ways of acting wrongly. The paradigmatic way to be blameworthy is to act subjectively wrongly. Mason argues for an account of subjective obligation that is connected to the notion of (...)
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  4. added 2019-06-06
    On Katherine Dimitriou’s “Drowning Man”.Joseph Ulatowski - 2012 - Southwest Philosophy Review 28 (2):25-28.
    Ms. Dimitriou's motivist view has a simple upshot: for at least some cases, our moral assessment of an action should depend on the motives behind it (Dimitriou, passim). This may be contrasted with the antimotivist position, the view that argues motives should not figure into our moral assessment of an action. She presents two provocative cases where an agent’s motive “infects” the concomitant action. One example involves racist thinking and the other a form of sexual self-gratification. Given that we would (...)
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  5. added 2019-06-06
    Measuring the Consequences of Rules: Holly M. Smith.Holly M. Smith - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (4):413-433.
    Recently two distinct forms of rule-utilitarianism have been introduced that differ on how to measure the consequences of rules. Brad Hooker advocates fixed-rate rule-utilitarianism, while Michael Ridge advocates variable-rate rule-utilitarianism. I argue that both of these are inferior to a new proposal, optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism. According to optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism, an ideal code is the code whose optimum acceptance level is no lower than that of any alternative code. I then argue that all three forms of rule-utilitarianism fall prey to two fatal (...)
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  6. added 2019-05-29
    Actualism and Possibilism in Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  7. added 2019-03-22
    Bentham on Temptation and Deterrence.Steven Sverdlik - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):246-261.
    In Introduction Bentham considers a difficulty. If the immediate aim of punishment is to deter agents considering breaking the law, then the severity of the threat of punishment must increase if they are strongly tempted to offend. But it seems intuitively that some people who were strongly tempted to offend should be punished leniently. Bentham argues in response that all potential offenders capable of being deterred must be deterred. He makes three mistakes. It is possible that it would produce the (...)
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  8. added 2019-01-08
    The Evil of Refraining to Save: Liu on the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing.Jacob Blair - 2017 - Diametros 52:127-137.
    In a recent article, Xiaofei Liu seeks to defend, from the standpoint of consequentialism, the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing: DDA. While there are various conceptions of DDA, Liu understands it as the view that it is more difficult to justify doing harm than allowing harm. Liu argues that a typical harm doing involves the production of one more evil and one less good than a typical harm allowing. Thus, prima facie, it takes a greater amount of good to justify (...)
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  9. added 2018-12-16
    The Fragile World Hypothesis: Complexity, Fragility, and Systemic Existential Risk.David Manheim - forthcoming - Futures.
    The possibility of social and technological collapse has been the focus of science fiction tropes for decades, but more recent focus has been on specific sources of existential and global catastrophic risk. Because these scenarios are simple to understand and envision, they receive more attention than risks due to complex interplay of failures, or risks that cannot be clearly specified. In this paper, we discuss the possibility that complexity of a certain type leads to fragility which can function as a (...)
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  10. added 2018-08-27
    Consequentializing Moral Dilemmas.Jussi Suikkanen - 2020 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 17 (3):261-289.
    The aim of the consequentializing project is to show that, for every plausible ethical theory, there is a version of consequentialism that is extensionally equivalent to it. One challenge this project faces is that there are common-sense ethical theories that posit moral dilemmas. There has been some speculation about how the consequentializers should react to these theories, but so far there has not been a systematic treatment of the topic. In this article, I show that there are at least five (...)
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  11. added 2018-04-17
    Contrary-to-Duty Scenarios, Deontic Dilemmas, and Transmission Principles.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2018 - Ethics 129 (1):98-115.
    Actualists hold that contrary-to-duty scenarios give rise to deontic dilemmas and provide counterexamples to the transmission principle, according to which we ought to take the necessary means to actions we ought to perform. In an earlier article, I have argued, contrary to actualism, that the notion of ‘ought’ that figures in conclusions of practical deliberation does not allow for deontic dilemmas and validates the transmission principle. Here I defend these claims, together with my possibilist account of contrary-to-duty scenarios, against Stephen (...)
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  12. added 2018-03-23
    Alternatives.Gunnar Björnsson - 2008 - Philosophical Communications.
    Manuscript originally written in 1995. Discusses various attempts to characterize alternatives relevant for deliberation and for the formulation of act-consequentialist accounts of what actions ought to be performed.
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  13. added 2018-02-04
    Consequentialism and the Standard Story of Action.Paul Hurley - 2018 - The Journal of Ethics 22 (1):25-44.
    I challenge the common picture of the “Standard Story” of Action as a neutral account of action within which debates in normative ethics can take place. I unpack three commitments that are implicit in the Standard Story, and demonstrate that these commitments together entail a teleological conception of reasons, upon which all reasons to act are reasons to bring about states of affairs. Such a conception of reasons, in turn, supports a consequentialist framework for the evaluation of action, upon which (...)
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  14. added 2017-07-08
    Global Consequentialism and the Morality and Laws of War.Hilary Greaves - forthcoming - In McDermott and Roser Kuosmanen (ed.), Human rights and 21st century challenges. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Rights-based approaches and consequentialist approaches to ethics are often seen as being diametrically opposed to one another. In one sense, they are. In another sense, however, they can be reconciled: a ‘global’ form of consequentialism might supply consequentialist foundations for a derivative morality that is non-consequentialist, and perhaps rights-based, in content. By way of case study to illustrate how this might work, I survey what a global consequentialist should think about a recent dispute between Jeff McMahan and Henry Shue on (...)
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  15. added 2017-03-03
    Does Participation Matter? An Inconsistency in Parfit's Moral Mathematics: Ben Eggleston.Ben Eggleston - 2003 - Utilitas 15 (1):92-105.
    Consequentialists typically think that the moral quality of one's conduct depends on the difference one makes. But consequentialists may also think that even if one is not making a difference, the moral quality of one's conduct can still be affected by whether one is participating in an endeavour that does make a difference. Derek Parfit discusses this issue – the moral significance of what I call ‘participation’ – in the chapter of Reasons and Persons that he devotes to what he (...)
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  16. added 2016-12-22
    Underivative Duty: British Moral Philosophers From Sidgwick to Ewing.Thomas Hurka (ed.) - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    These ten new essays by leading contemporary philosophers constitute the first collective study of a group of British moral philosophers active between the ...
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  17. added 2016-11-23
    Should Consequentialists Make Parfit's Second Mistake? A Refutation of Jackson.Ben Eggleston - 2000 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78 (1):1–15.
    Frank Jackson claims that consequentialists should hold the view that Derek Parfit labels the second ‘mistake in moral mathematics’, which is the view that “If some act is right or wrong because of . . . effects, the only relevant effects are the effects of this particular act.” But each of the three arguments that Jackson offers is unsound. The root of the problem is that in order to argue for the conclusion Jackson aims to establish (that consequentialists should not (...)
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  18. added 2016-01-02
    Multi-Dimensional Consequentialism and Degrees of Rightness.Vuko Andrić & Attila Tanyi - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (3):711-731.
    In his recent book, The Dimensions of Consequentialism, Martin Peterson puts forward a new version of consequentialism that he dubs ‘multidimensional consequentialism’. The defining thesis of the new theory is that there are irreducible moral aspects that jointly determine the deontic status of an act. In defending his particular version of multidimensional consequentialism, Peterson advocates the thesis—he calls it DEGREE—that if two or more moral aspects clash, the act under consideration is right to some non-extreme degree. This goes against the (...)
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  19. added 2015-08-09
    Don’T Count on Taurek: Vindicating the Case for the Numbers Counting.Yishai Cohen - 2014 - Res Publica 20 (3):245-261.
    Suppose you can save only one of two groups of people from harm, with one person in one group, and five persons in the other group. Are you obligated to save the greater number? While common sense seems to say ‘yes’, the numbers skeptic says ‘no’. Numbers Skepticism has been partly motivated by the anti-consequentialist thought that the goods, harms and well-being of individual people do not aggregate in any morally significant way. However, even many non-consequentialists think that Numbers Skepticism (...)
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  20. added 2015-04-12
    Multidimensional Consequentialism and Risk.Vuko Andrić & Attila Tanyi - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (1):49-57.
    In his new book, The Dimensions of Consequentialism, Martin Peterson proposes a version of multi-dimensional consequentialism according to which risk is one among several dimensions. We argue that Peterson’s treatment of risk is unsatisfactory. More precisely, we want to show that all problems of one-dimensional (objective or subjective) consequentialism are also problems for Peterson’s proposal, although it may fall prey to them less often. In ending our paper, we address the objection that our discussion overlooks the fact that Peterson’s proposal (...)
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  21. added 2014-06-09
    Reply to Goldman: Cutting Up the One to Save the Five in Epistemology.Selim Berker - 2015 - Episteme 12 (2):145-153.
    I argue that Alvin Goldman has failed to save process reliabilism from my critique in earlier work of consequentialist or teleological epistemic theories. First, Goldman misconstrues the nature of my challenge: two of the cases he discusses I never claimed to be counterexamples to process reliabilism. Second, Goldman’s reply to the type of case I actually claimed to be a counterexample to process reliabilism is unsuccessful. He proposes a variety of responses, but all of them either feature an implausible restriction (...)
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  22. added 2014-04-28
    The Confinement Problem: How to Terminate Your Mom with Her Trust.Paul McNamara - 1995 - Analysis 55 (4):310 - 313.
    Cliff Landesman provides a vivid description of a case where we have no best outcome available to us. He poses this as a problem for utilitarians who advise us to do the best we can. This does indeed make such advice impractical. I begin by contrasting older versions of utilitarianism with newer ones that have appeared in deontic logic and that were designed precisely to accommodate Landesman's sort of scenario. (I cast matters in terms of the Limit Assumption and world-theoretic (...)
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  23. added 2014-03-27
    Self Torture and Group Beneficence.Frank Arntzenius & David McCarthy - 1997 - Erkenntnis 47 (1):129-144.
    Moral puzzles about actions which bring about very small or what are said to be imperceptible harms or benefits for each of a large number of people are well known. Less well known is an argument by Warren Quinn that standard theories of rationality can lead an agent to end up torturing himself or herself in a completely foreseeable way, and that this shows that standard theories of rationality need to be revised. We show where Quinn's argument goes wrong, and (...)
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  24. added 2014-02-19
    The Impotence of the Demandingness Objection.David Sobel - 2007 - Philosophers' Imprint 7:1-17.
    Consequentialism, many philosophers have claimed, asks too much of us to be a plausible ethical theory. Indeed, the theory's severe demandingness is often claimed to be its chief flaw. My thesis is that as we come to better understand this objection, we see that, even if it signals or tracks the existence of a real problem for Consequentialism, it cannot itself be a fundamental problem with the view. The objection cannot itself provide good reason to break with Consequentialism, because it (...)
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  25. added 2013-11-03
    Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions.Selim Berker - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (3):337-393.
    When it comes to epistemic normativity, should we take the good to be prior to the right? That is, should we ground facts about what we ought and ought not believe on a given occasion in facts about the value of being in certain cognitive states (such as, for example, the value of having true beliefs)? The overwhelming answer among contemporary epistemologists is “Yes, we should.” This essay argues to the contrary. Just as taking the good to be prior to (...)
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  26. added 2013-03-16
    Coercion and Integrity.Elinor Mason - 2012 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics: Volume 2. Oxford University Press.
    Williams argues that impartial moral theories undermine agents’ integrity by making them responsible for allowings as well as doings. I argue that in some cases of allowings, where there is an intervening agent, the agent has been coerced, and so is not fully responsible. -/- I provide an analysis of coercion. Whether an agent is coerced depends on various things (the coercer must provide strong reasons, and the coercer must have a mens rea), and crucially, the coercee’s action is rendered (...)
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  27. added 2012-11-23
    Is the Right Prior to the Good?Julian Fink - 2007 - South African Journal of Philosophy 26 (2):143-149.
    One popular line of argument put forward in support of the principle that the right is prior to the good is to show that teleological theories, which put the good prior to the right, lead to implausible normative results. There are situa- tions, it is argued, in which putting the good prior to the right entails that we ought to do things that cannot be right for us to do. Consequently, goodness cannot (always) explain an action's rightness. This indicates that (...)
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  28. added 2012-09-23
    The "Prospective View" of Obligation.Holly M. Smith - 2010 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (1):1-9.
  29. added 2011-05-30
    Review of Jeffrey A. Schaler (Ed.), Peter Singer Under Fire: The Moral Iconoclast Faces His Critics. [REVIEW]Daniel Groll - 2010 - Teaching Philosophy 33 (4):418-421.
  30. added 2011-02-17
    Utilitarian Eschatology.Mark T. Nelson - 1991 - American Philosophical Quarterly 28 (4):339-47.
    Traditional utilitarianism, when applied, implies a surprising prediction about the future, viz., that all experience of pleasure and pain must end once and for all, or infinitely dwindle. Not only is this implication surprising, it should render utilitarianism unacceptable to persons who hold any of the following theses: that evaluative propositions may not imply descriptive, factual propositions; that evaluative propositions may not imply contingent factual propositions about the future; that there will always exist beings who experience pleasure or pain.
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