Consequentialists Must Kill

Ethics 131 (4):727-753 (2021)
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Many contemporary act consequentialists define facts about what we should do in terms of facts about what we should prefer. They claim that we should perform an action if and only if we should prefer its outcome to the outcome of any available alternative. Some of these theorists claim they can accommodate deontic constraints, such as a constraint against killing the innocent. I argue that they can’t. If there’s a constraint against killing, then when we can prevent five killings only by killing one, we shouldn’t kill—but we should prefer the outcome where we do.



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Christopher Howard
McGill University

Citations of this work

Consequentializing.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Sources of Transitivity.Daniel Muñoz - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy:1-22.

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References found in this work

Attitudes de dicto and de se.David Lewis - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (4):513-543.
The Toxin Puzzle.Gregory S. Kavka - 1983 - Analysis 43 (1):33-36.
Utilitarianism and the virtues.Philippa Foot - 1985 - Mind 94 (374):196-209.
The Rejection of Consequentializing.Daniel Muñoz - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (2):79-96.

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