Deontic Pluralism and the Right Amount of Good

In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. Oxford University Press. pp. 498-512 (2020)
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Abstract

Consequentialist views have traditionally taken a maximizing form, requiring agents to bring about the very best outcome that they can. But this maximizing function may be questioned. Satisficing views instead allow agents to bring about any outcome that exceeds a satisfactory threshold or qualifies as “good enough.” Scalar consequentialism, by contrast, eschews moral requirements altogether, instead evaluating acts in purely comparative terms, i.e., as better or worse than their alternatives. After surveying the main considerations for and against each of these three views, I argue that the core insights of each are not (despite appearances) in conflict. Consequentialists should be deontic pluralists and accept a maximizing account of the ought of most reason, a satisficing account of obligation, and a scalar account of the weight of reasons.

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Richard Y. Chappell
University of Miami

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