Chapter

DESCRIBING AN ACTION

David Lyons

in Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism

Published in print November 1965 | ISBN: 9780198241973
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724817 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198241973.003.0002
DESCRIBING AN ACTION

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In applying utilitarian generalization, one views an act as an act of a certain kind. But of which kind? What features of acts should one consider? This is the problem of relevance, a solution to which is required before one can hope to apply such a principle. There is a related but more restricted problem, that of inconsistency. It seems that one can generate incompatible judgements from the forms of utilitarian generalization. If so, they cannot reasonably be regarded as sound moral principles. This chapter shows that a solution is possible to each of these problems which requires that one takes note of the nature or content of the principles – first, as utilitarian, and second, as general utilitarian principles.

Keywords: relevance; consistency; rebuttals; utilitarian properties; utilitarian generalization

Chapter.  12294 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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