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Beyond Consequentialism$
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Paul Hurley

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559305

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559305.001.0001

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The Challenge to Consequentialism: A Troubling Normative Triad

The Challenge to Consequentialism: A Troubling Normative Triad

Chapter:
(p.10) 2 The Challenge to Consequentialism: A Troubling Normative Triad
Source:
Beyond Consequentialism
Author(s):

Paul Hurley (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559305.003.0002

This chapter focuses on the challenge to consequentialism by locating standard act consequentialism within a triad of claims that are in considerable tension with each other. Acceptance of any two of these three claims — (i) RAMS: the rational authoritativeness of moral standards (agents have decisive reasons to do what they are morally required to do); (ii) NIR: the non-impersonality of practical reason (agents have fundamental reasons that are often sufficient for acting in ways which do not promote the overall value of states of affairs); and (iii) CMS: the consequentialist theory of moral standards — appears to generate obstacles to endorsing the third. Traditional arguments that consequentialism is too extreme — too demanding, too confining, and too alienating — invoke different aspects of the problem that, by RAMS and CMS, we have decisive reasons always to bring about the best overall state of affairs, but rational agents frequently appear to have sufficient reasons not to bring about the best overall state of affairs [NIR], hence to do what consequentialism identifies as wrong.

Keywords:   act consequentialism, non-impersonal reasons, rational authority, moral standards, impersonal, moral requirement

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