Why I Am Not a Utilitarian

Douglas W. Portmore

in Commonsense Consequentialism

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199794539
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919260 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Moral Theory

Why I Am Not a Utilitarian

Show Summary Details


The chapter explains the motivation for the book, which is to find a moral theory that accommodates what's compelling about act-utilitarianism while avoiding most, if not all, of its counterintuitive implications. It is argued that what's compelling about act-utilitarianism is the idea that an act's deontic status is determined by the agent's reasons for preferring its outcome to those of the available alternatives such that it can never be morally wrong for her to act so as to bring about the outcome that she has most reason to want to obtain. And it is argued that what is most problematic about act-utilitarianism is its implication that agents are sometimes required to act in ways that they lack decisive reason to act. The chapter also lays out the plan for the book and explains the book's focus on what we objectively ought to do and why this is of fundamental importance.

Keywords: utilitarianism; objective ought; moral rationalism; objective reasons; consequentialism

Chapter.  12013 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.