Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 47 (1):7-39 (2012)

I discuss the third of Anscombe’s theses from “Modern Moral Philosophy”, namely that post-Sidgwickian consequentialism makes the worst action acceptable. I scrutinize her comprehension of “consequentialism”, her reconstruction of Sidgwick’s view of intention, her defence of casuistry, her reformulation of the double-effect doctrine, and her view of morality as based on Divine commands. I argue that her characterization of consequentialism suffers from lack of understanding of the history of utilitarianism and its self-transformation through the Intuitionism-Utilitarianism controversy; that she uncritically accepted an impoverished image of Kantian ethics and intuitionism, which was, ironically, an unaware bequest from her consequentialist opponents; that her action theory, yet, is a decisive contribution that may prove useful in formulating answers to questions that have been left open in both utilitarian and Kantian or intuitionist theories; that, to make the best of her actions theory, it is as well to drop her divine law view of ethics, which is incompatible with the former; and that the rather obscure traditional theological doctrine of absolute prohibitions is unnecessary to her project that could fare well with the more sober distinction between perfect and imperfect duties.
Keywords consequentialism  Sidgwick  casuistry  intrinsic evil  utilitarianism  proportionalism
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DOI 10.1163/24689300-90000002
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