The Rejection of Objective Consequentialism

Utilitas 9 (2):241-248 (1997)
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Abstract

Objective consequentialism is often criticized because it is impossible to know which of our actions will have the best consequences. Why exactly does this undermine objective consequentialism? I offer a new link between the claim that our knowledge of the future is limited and the rejection of objective consequentialism: that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ and we cannot produce the best consequences available to us. I support this apparently paradoxical contention by way of an analogy. I cannot beat Karpov at chess in spite of the fact that I can make each of many series of moves, at least one of which would beat him. I then respond to a series of objections. In the process I develop an account of the ‘can’ of ability. I conclude with some remarks about the bearing this attack has on subjective consequentialism

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Frances Howard-Snyder
Western Washington University

Citations of this work

Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
I ought, therefore I can.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167-216.
Normativity without Cartesian privilege.Amia Srinivasan - 2015 - Philosophical Issues 25 (1):273-299.

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References found in this work

Subjectivization in Ethics.James L. Hudson - 1989 - American Philosophical Quarterly 26 (3):221 - 229.

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