Pettit on consequentialism and universalizability

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 26 (3):261-275 (2005)
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Philip Pettit has argued that universalizability entails consequentialism. I criticise the argument for relying on a question-begging reading of the impartiality of universalization. A revised form of the argument can be constructed by relying on preference-satisfaction rationality, rather than on impartiality. But this revised argument succumbs to an ambiguity in the notion of a preference (or desire). I compare the revised argument to an earlier argument of Pettit’s for consequentialism that appealed to the theoretical virtue of simplicity, and I raise questions about the force of appeal to notions like simplicity and rationality in moral argument.



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Andrew Gleeson
Flinders University

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References found in this work

Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.
Moral Thinking: Its Levels, Method, and Point.R. M. Hare (ed.) - 1981 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Consequentialism.Philip Pettit - 1991 - Dartmouth Publishing Company.
The Survival Lottery.John Harris - 1975 - Philosophy 50 (191):81 - 87.
The Consequentialist Perspective.Philip Pettit - 1997 - In M. Baron, P. Pettit & M. Slote (eds.), Three Methods of Ethics. Blackwell.

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