Is act-consquentialism self-effacing?

Analysis 81 (4):718-726 (2021)
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Act-consequentialism (C) is self-effacing for an agent iff that agent’s not accepting C would produce the best outcome. The question of whether C is self-effacing is important for evaluating C. Some hold that if C is self-effacing that would be a mark against it (Williams 1973: 134); however, the claim that C is self-effacing is also used to defend C against certain objections (Parfit 1984: Ch. 1, Railton 1984). In this paper I will show that one argument suggested by Parfit and Railton fails to establish that C is self-effacing for individuals. However, a slightly different argument may show that C is self-effacing for groups. This raises the intriguing possibility that it might be right for an individual, but not for a group of which they are a member, to accept a moral theory. This possibility, odd though it seems, might be helpful to consequentialists.

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Nikhil Venkatesh
London School of Economics

Citations of this work

Against Commitment.Nikhil Venkatesh - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3511-3534.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Utilitarianism.J. S. Mill - 1861 - Oxford University Press UK. Edited by Roger Crisp.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
Getting Causes From Powers.Stephen Mumford & Rani Lill Anjum - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. Edited by Rani Lill Anjum.

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