The Project and Its Motivation

Samuel Scheffler

in The Rejection of Consequentialism

Published in print August 1994 | ISBN: 9780198235118
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598340 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

The Project and Its Motivation

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The term ‘consequentialism’ refers to a class of moral theories that rank overall states of affairs and require agents to produce the best states of affairs they can. Bernard Williams and others have criticized consequentialism, saying that it undermines agents’ integrity by requiring them to view cherished personal projects from an impersonal perspective. In addition, the most well‐known consequentialist theory, classical utilitarianism, can be criticized for its insensitivity to questions of distributive justice. Scheffler examines these two objections and proposes that the first might be avoided by a hybrid theory—one that agrees with consequentialism in so far as it rejects agent‐centred restrictions and permits agents always to produce the best available outcomes, but that departs from consequentialism by including an agent‐centred prerogative. To avoid the second objection, a hybrid theory must employ a distribution‐sensitive conception of the good.

Keywords: agent‐centred prerogative; agent‐centred restriction; consequentialism; distributive justice; the good; hybrid theory; integrity; utilitarianism; Bernard Williams

Chapter.  4864 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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