Jonathan Bennett

in The Act Itself

Published in print March 1998 | ISBN: 9780198237914
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597077 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


If making/allowing lacks basic moral significance, morality seems to be terribly demanding. It could be demanding in either of two ways: by answering too many practical questions, leaving too few to be resolved on non‐moral grounds, or by thwarting too many of our natural, non‐moral desires. The former is irrelevant to making/allowing but the ‘thwarting’ kind of demandingness is not, and attempts by Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick to fend off the threat are failures. The ‘thwarting’ threat might be countered by adopting a morality that requires or permits more attention to one's own interests than to others’, but when that is combined with the moral neutrality of making/allowing, the result is requirement or permission for behaviour that no decent person would agree to.

Keywords: Bentham; demandingness; demands; Mill; self‐interest; Sidgwick

Chapter.  9203 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.