Consequentialism and the Notion of Agent-Neutral Good

This essay argues for three theses. The first is that the notion of agent-neutral value, or more accurately, the promotion of agent-neutral values, is what truly defines consequentialism as a type of moral theory. A state of affairs is of agent-neutral value if it is capable of generating reasons for action for everybody. The second is that the existence of agent-neutral value has never been proven, and no known account of this notion has made clear what kind of things these are. In particular, I argue that both the non-moral approach and the moral approach to make good the claim about the existence of agent-neutral values are unable to deliver the desired results. The third thesis is that moral philosophy should exorcise the notion of agent-neutral value, not only because we do not know what type of things these are, but also because we do not need this notion in order to have good moral philosophy. I offer, basically, two arguments here. One is that when the justificatory issue is properly formulated, the so-called 'agent-relative rules' appear to be justifiable. The other is that the duty of beneficence can be accounted for on grounds other than that of agent-neutral value
Keywords agent neutrality, consequentialism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,979
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Agent Neutrality is the Exclusive Feature of Consequentialism.Desheng Zong - 2000 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (4):676-693.
Can an Act-Consequentialist Theory Be Agent Relative?Douglas W. Portmore - 2001 - American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (4):363-77.
An Argument for Agent-Neutral Value.David Alm - 2007 - Ratio 20 (3):249–263.
Agent-Neutral Deontology.Tom Dougherty - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (2):527-537.
Humean Agent-Neutral Reasons?Daan Evers - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (1):55 – 67.
The Agent-Relative/Agent-Neutral Distinction: My Two Sense (S).Jessica Lerm - 2013 - South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):137-148.
The Shape of Practical Reasons: A Defense of Agent-Neutralism.Michael Raymond Ridge - 1999 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
La imposibilidad de un consecuencialismo moderado.Martin Farrell - 2000 - Análisis Filosófico 20 (1-2):7-32.
Agent-Neutral and Agent-Relative.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - In J. E. Crimmins & D. C. Long (eds.), Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism.


Added to PP index

Total views
8 ( #1,005,902 of 2,504,853 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #417,030 of 2,504,853 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes