Commensuration and Public Reason

John Finnis

in Reason in Action

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580057
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729379 | DOI:
Commensuration and Public Reason

Show Summary Details


‘Measure’ is highly analogous, and some assertions about incommensurability are unwarranted. Relativist, Kantian, and intuitionist objections to utilitarianism's claims about commensurability are inadequate, but sound objections remain and are developed in this extended survey of the elements of commensurability and incommensurability in the goods and bads in alternative available courses of action. The survey considers the irreducible distinction between the cultural-technical and the moral domains; the significance of choice as free and as lasting in the acting person's character, the open-ended horizon of individual and social life, and the relevance of risk; the integral directiveness of practical reason's first principles, and the availability of standards for comparing options without impossible commensurations; the rationality of refusing to do evil for the sake of good; and the sub-rational factors involved in applying the rational Golden Rule.

Keywords: incommensurability; comparability of options; utilitarianism; Kant; risk; horizon of choice; doing evil for sake of good; integral directiveness

Chapter.  10472 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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.