Consequentialism and Moral Rationalism

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

Consequentialism and Moral Rationalism

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The chapter argues, on the basis of a conceptual connection between wrongdoing and blameworthiness, that we should accept moral rationalism: the view that an agent can be morally required to perform a given act only if she has decisive reason, all things considered, to perform that act. And it argues that although we should reject all traditional versions of act-consequentialism given moral rationalism and certain plausible assumptions about what agents have decisive reason to do, we should accept some version of act-consequentialism, for act-consequentialism is entailed by the conjunction of moral rationalism and a certain plausible conception of practical reasons—namely, the teleological conception of practical reasons. Lastly, it is argued that act-consequentialism is best construed as a theory that ranks outcomes, not according to their impersonal value, but according to how much reason the agent has to desire that each outcome obtains.

Keywords: utilitarianism; consequentialism; too-demanding objection; moral rationalism; moral responsibility; blameworthiness; wrongdoing; Peter Singer; David Sobel; Stephen Darwall

Chapter.  17677 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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