Can an act-consequentialist theory be agent relative?

American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (4):363-77 (2001)

Abstract

A theory is agent neutral if it gives every agent the same set of aims and agent relative otherwise. Most philosophers take act-consequentialism to be agent-neutral, but I argue that at the heart of consequentialism is the idea that all acts are morally permissible in virtue of their propensity to promote value and that, given this, it is possible to have a theory that is both agent-relative and act-consequentialist. Furthermore, I demonstrate that agent-relative act-consequentialism can avoid the counterintuitive implications associated with utilitarianism while maintaining the compelling idea that it is never wrong to bring about the best outcome.

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Douglas W. Portmore
Arizona State University

References found in this work

Two Distinctions in Goodness.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (2):169-195.
The Heart of Consequentialism.Frances Howard-Snyder - 1994 - Philosophical Studies 76 (1):107 - 129.

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Citations of this work

Consequentialism.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Consequentializing Moral Theories.Douglas W. Portmore - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (1):39–73.
Why Consequentialism’s "Compelling Idea" Is Not.Paul Hurley - 2017 - Social Theory and Practice 43 (1):29-54.

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