Philosophical Studies 167 (3):585-596 (2014)

Authors
Johan E. Gustafsson
University of York
Abstract
In the 1960’s, Lars Bergström and Hector-Neri Castañeda noticed a problem with alternative acts and consequentialism. The source of the problem is that some performable acts are versions of other performable acts and the versions need not have the same consequences as the originals. Therefore, if all performable acts are among the agent’s alternatives, act consequentialism yields deontic paradoxes. A standard response is to restrict the application of act consequentialism to certain relevant alternative sets. Many proposals are based on some variation of maximalism, that is, the view that act consequentialism should only be applied to maximally specific acts. In this paper, I argue that maximalism cannot yield the right prescriptions in some cases where one can either (i) form at once the intention to do an immediate act and form at a later time the intention to do a succeeding act or (ii) form at once the intention to do both acts and where the consequences of (i) and (ii) differ in value. Maximalism also violates normative invariance, that is, the condition that if an act is performable in a situation, then the normative status of the act does not depend on what acts are performed in the situation. Instead of maximalism, I propose that the relevant alternatives should be the exhaustive combinations of acts the agent can jointly perform without performing any other act in the situation. In this way, one avoids the problem of act versions without violating normative invariance. Another advantage is that one can adequately differentiate between possibilities like (i) and (ii)
Keywords Consequentialism  Alternatives  Maximalism  Act versions  Actualism  Possibilism  Normative invariance
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2014
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11098-013-0114-x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,078
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Concept of Moral Obligation.Michael J. Zimmerman - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Oughts, Options, and Actualism.Frank Jackson & Robert Pargetter - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):233-255.
The Concept of Moral Obligation.Lou Goble - 1996 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):242-244.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Maximalism and Moral Harmony.Douglas W. Portmore - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2):318-341.
Moral Obligations: Actualist, Possibilist, or Hybridist?Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):672-686.
Actualism and Possibilism in Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Consequentialism, Group Acts, and Trolleys.Joseph Mendola - 2005 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86 (1):64–87.
Can an Act-Consequentialist Theory Be Agent Relative?Douglas W. Portmore - 2001 - American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (4):363-77.
Dual-Ranking Act-Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (3):409 - 427.
Publicity in Morality.Brad Hooker - 2010 - Ratio 23:111-117.
Consequentialism and Decision Procedures.Toby Ord - 2005 - Dissertation, University of Oxford

Analytics

Added to PP index
2013-03-04

Total views
145 ( #79,563 of 2,498,794 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #210,517 of 2,498,794 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes