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On What MattersVolume Three$
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Derek Parfit

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198778608

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198778608.001.0001

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Conflicting Reasons

Conflicting Reasons

Chapter:
(p.335) 54 Conflicting Reasons
Source:
On What Matters
Author(s):

Derek Parfit

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198778608.003.0019

This chapter confronts ‘the profoundest problem in ethics’ — in which we always have most reason to do our duty, by doing whatever would be impartially best, and that we always have most reason to do whatever would be best for ourselves. These beliefs imply that, when one act would be impartially best but another act would be best for ourselves, we would have most reason to act in each of these different ways. That is a contradiction, which could not be true. These arguments can be revised so that they avoid this contradiction. But these beliefs would still imply that, whenever any impartial moral reason conflicts with any self-interested reason, neither reason would be stronger. Reason would give us no guidance, since there would be nothing that we had more reason to do.

Keywords:   reason, conflicting reasons, ethics, self-interested reasons, moral reasons, impartial reasons

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