Chapter

You don’t have to do what’s best! A problem for consequentialists and other teleologists<sup>1</sup>

S. Andrew Schroeder

in Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 1

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693269
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732058 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693269.003.0008

Series: Oxford Studies In Normative Ethics

You don’t have to do what’s best! A problem for consequentialists and other teleologists1

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Define teleology as the view that practical requirements hold in virtue of facts about value or goodness. Most versions of consequentialism, as well as many deontological views, are teleological. In fact, some philosophers (e.g., Dreier, Smith) argue that all plausible moral theories can be understood teleologically, or “consequentialized”. However, the paper argues that certain well-known cases show that teleology must at minimum presuppose certain facts about what an agent ought to know, and that this means that requirements can't generally hold in virtue of facts about value or goodness. The paper proceeds to show that even if we grant those ‘ought’s, teleology faces a further problem: a positive justification of teleology seems to require an invalid form of argument -- O(X); if X, then O(Y); therefore O(Y). The paper concludes by identifying two families of quasi-teleological views that are not vulnerable to the author’s objections: non-teleological consequentialism and scalar consequentialism

Keywords: teleology; consequentialism; consequentialize; deontology; practical reason; subjective obligation; scalar consequentialism

Chapter.  15424 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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