Intuitions and the Demands of Consequentialism

Utilitas 23 (1):94-104 (2011)
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Abstract

One response to the demandingness objection is that it begs the question against consequentialism by assuming a moral distinction between what a theory requires and what it permits. According to the consequentialist, this distinction stands in need of defense. However, this response may also beg the question, this time at the methodological level, regarding the credibility of the intuitions underlying the objection. The success of the consequentialist's response thus turns on the role we assign to intuitions in our moral methodology. After presenting the demandingness objection to consequentialism and revealing the underlying methodological stalemate, I break the stalemate by appealing to research in the cognitive neuroscience of intuitions. Given the evidence for the hypothesis that our moral intuitions are fundamentally emotional (rather than rational) responses, we should give our intuitions a modest (rather than robust) role in our moral methodology. This rescues the consequentialist's response to the demandingness objection

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Matthew Tedesco
Beloit College

References found in this work

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
The Limits of Morality.Shelly Kagan - 1989 - Oxford University Press.

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