William James's Ethics of Prometheanism

History of Philosophy Quarterly 15 (2):245 - 269 (1998)

Abstract
According to William James's casuistic rule we are always morally obligated to act in a way that maximizes desire satisfaction over desire dissatisfaction. This maximizing rule sharply clashes with James's strong deontological intuitions, which he expresses in other writings. A key problem for an interpreter is that sometimes James expresses his casuistic rule in terms of maximizing demand (or claim) satisfaction. An effort is made to relate these two different versions of the casuistic rule in a harmonious fashion
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