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Reason in ActionCollected Essays Volume I$
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John Finnis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580057

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580057.001.0001

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Commensuration and Public Reason

Commensuration and Public Reason

(p.233) 15 Commensuration and Public Reason
Reason in Action

John Finnis

Oxford University Press

‘Measure’ is highly analogous, and some assertions about incommensurability are unwarranted. Relativist, Kantian, and intuitionist objections to utilitarianism's claims about commensurability are inadequate, but sound objections remain and are developed in this extended survey of the elements of commensurability and incommensurability in the goods and bads in alternative available courses of action. The survey considers the irreducible distinction between the cultural-technical and the moral domains; the significance of choice as free and as lasting in the acting person's character, the open-ended horizon of individual and social life, and the relevance of risk; the integral directiveness of practical reason's first principles, and the availability of standards for comparing options without impossible commensurations; the rationality of refusing to do evil for the sake of good; and the sub-rational factors involved in applying the rational Golden Rule.

Keywords:   incommensurability, comparability of options, utilitarianism, Kant, risk, horizon of choice, doing evil for sake of good, integral directiveness

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