Does scrupulous securitism stand-up to scrutiny? Two problems for moral securitism and how we might fix them

Philosophical Studies 172 (6):1509-1528 (2015)
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Abstract

A relatively new debate in ethics concerns the relationship between one's present obligations and how one would act in the future. One popular view is actualism, which holds that what an agent would do in the future affects her present obligations. Agent's future behavior is held fixed and the agent's present obligations are determined by what would be best to do now in light of how the agent would act in the future. Doug Portmore defends a new view he calls moral securitism, which is supposed to avoid the problems associated with actualism. On this account, what an agent would do in the future is treated as fixed iff that agent's future actions are not currently under the agent's present deliberative control. φ-ing is under an agent's present deliberative control iff whether the agent φ's depends upon the immediate outcome of the agent's present deliberations. I argue that moral securitism falls prey to two of the same serious problems that actualism does: it lets agents avoid incurring moral obligations because they have rotten moral dispositions and entails that agents ought to perform truly terribly acts. After providing a few standard counter-examples to actualism to show how it is plagued with these two problems, I offer my own example which demonstrates that moral securitism is subject to a version of these same two problems. I then review Portmore's response to my objection, arguing that it fails. I end the paper by offering a tentative revision of moral securitism that would allow it to avoid the aforementioned problems

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Travis Timmerman
Seton Hall University

Citations of this work

Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Moral Obligations: Actualist, Possibilist, or Hybridist?Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):672-686.
Actualism Has Control Issues.Yishai Cohen & Travis Timmerman - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (3):1-18.
Epistemic modesty in ethics.Nicholas Laskowski - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1577-1596.
Actualism and Possibilism in Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
On What Matters: Volume Three.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press UK.
The Concept of Moral Obligation.Michael J. Zimmerman - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Oughts, options, and actualism.Frank Jackson & Robert Pargetter - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):233-255.

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