Moral Status and Agent-Centred Options

Utilitas (forthcoming)
Authors
Seth Lazar
Australian National University
Abstract
If we were required to sacrifice our own interests whenever doing so was best overall, or prohibited from doing so unless it was optimal, then we would be mere sites for the realisation of value. Our interests, not ourselves, would wholly determine what we ought to do. We are not mere sites for the realisation of value — instead we, ourselves, matter unconditionally. So we have options to act suboptimally. These options have limits, grounded in the very same considerations. Though not merely such sites, you and I are also sites for the realisation of value, and our interests (and ourselves) must therefore sometimes determine what others ought to do, in particular requiring them to bear reasonable costs for our sake. Likewise, just as my moral status grounds a requirement that others show me appropriate respect, so must I do to myself.
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