Practical Dilemmas

Derek Parfit

in Reasons and Persons

Published in print January 1986 | ISBN: 9780198249085
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598173 | DOI:
 Practical Dilemmas

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Explains why C cannot be directly self‐defeating. Theories are agent‐relative if they give different agents different aims. Two such theories are S and Common Sense Morality, or M. It is often true that, if each of several people does what would be best for themselves, that would be worse for all these people. In such cases, S is directly collectively self‐defeating. In moral analogues of such cases, M is similarly self‐defeating. The chapter describes how these problems can have political, psychological, or moral solutions.

Keywords: agent‐neutral; agent‐relative; common sense morality; prisoner's dilemma; public goods; rationality; self‐defeating; self‐interest

Chapter.  5843 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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