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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 Demandingness Objection: Too Demanding, or Not Demanding at All?

The Demandingness Objection: Too Demanding, or Not Demanding at All?

Chapter:
(p.35) 3 The Demandingness Objection: Too Demanding, or Not Demanding at All?
Source:
Beyond Consequentialism
Author(s):

Paul Hurley (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559305.003.0003

Consequentialism has since its inception faced persistent challenges of excess: it is, critics charge, too demanding, too confining, and too alienating to offer a plausible alternative moral theory. This chapter argues that the deeper challenge confronting consequentialism is not one of excess but of defect; in particular, of defects along precisely these dimensions upon which it is taken to be excessive. Developing a line of thought introduced in Chapter 1, the arguments in this chapter draw upon the work of Shelly Kagan and others to demonstrate that consequentialism, as it is typically presented, is a theory of exacting moral standards, but not of decisive reasons for agents to conform to these standards. As a result, this theory of exacting moral standards can, with perfect consistency, be incorporated within an overall account upon which there are few, if any, rational demands upon agents to heed such standards. These challenges of defect confronting consequentialism are far more formidable than the traditional challenges of excess.

Keywords:   demandingness, confinement, Kagan, moral reasons, moral standards, impersonal standpoint

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