Commonsense Consequentialism

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

Commonsense Consequentialism

Show Summary Details


The chapter argues that the best version of act-utilitarianism (as well as the best version of consequentialism) will: (1) evaluate sets of actions and not just individual actions, (2) presuppose securitism as opposed to actualism or possibilism, (3) index permissions and obligations to times, and (4) possess a dual-ranking structure. It argues for a version of indirect consequentialism according to which the moral permissibility of an individual action is determined by whether or not it is contained within some maximal set of actions that is itself morally permissible. This version of indirect consequentialism—viz., commonsense consequentialism—is able to accommodate all the basic features of commonsense morality: special obligations, agent-favoring options, agent-sacrificing options, agent-centered restrictions, supererogatory acts, the self-other asymmetry, and even the idea that some acts are supererogatory in the sense of going above and beyond what imperfect duty requires.

Keywords: actualism; possibilism; maximal sets of actions; securitism; imperfect duties; supererogatory acts; superperfecterogatory acts; agglomeration; Professor Procrastinate

Chapter.  17808 words.  Illustrated.

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.