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Luck, Value, and CommitmentThemes From the Ethics of Bernard Williams$
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Ulrike Heuer and Gerald Lang

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199599325

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599325.001.0001

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The Inescapability of Consequentialism

The Inescapability of Consequentialism

Chapter:
(p.41) 2 The Inescapability of Consequentialism
Source:
Luck, Value, and Commitment
Author(s):

Philip Pettit

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599325.003.0003

For non-consequentialists an agent is justified in refusing to breach certain constraints even for the sake of apparently more important, neutral goals: even, indeed, for the sake of maximizing the overall satisfaction of those very constraints. To put the message in a slogan: ‘Not by my hands’. But how can non-consequentialism offer a distinctive evaluation of the social and political arrangements (say, the property conventions) that ethics presupposes? The only plausible answer is: by laying down constraints that we, the community, ought to satisfy in imposing such arrangements on individuals.‘Not by our hands’, as it might be put. But this response is not satisfactory. In this fundamental, political sphere of evaluation, consequentialism is inescapable.

Keywords:   Bernard Williams, consequentialism, non-consequentialism, ethics, politics

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