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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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Harnessing Williams to Sharpen the Challenge to Consequentialism

Harnessing Williams to Sharpen the Challenge to Consequentialism

Chapter:
(p.62) 4 Harnessing Williams to Sharpen the Challenge to Consequentialism
Source:
Beyond Consequentialism
Author(s):

Paul Hurley (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559305.003.0004

This chapter harnesses Bernard Williams' classic alienation and integrity arguments against Smart's act utilitarian consequentialism in order to sharpen the challenge to consequentialism. The first Williams-inspired sharpening of the challenge is built upon his demonstration that the theory presupposes that rational agents have good non-impersonal lower-order reasons. Insofar as the impersonal standpoint makes any demands upon such a rational agent, such demands reflect an additional higher-order reason. Such a higher-order reason, however, is but one among the agent's reasons, and Gary Watson's work on higher-order desires allows us to see that there is no reason to accord such a higher-order reason any special place among the agent's reasons. The second Williams-inspired sharpening of the challenge builds upon his suggestion that among agents' lower-order reasons, the reasons properly taken into account in any higher-order ranking of states of affairs, are certain distinctively moral lower-order reasons: impersonal evaluation of states of affairs presupposes non-impersonal moral reasons, hence the impersonal standpoint is not the fundamental moral standpoint.

Keywords:   higher-order, lower-order, impersonal standpoint, Bernard Williams, Gary Watson, integrity, alienation

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