Why Consequentialism’s "Compelling Idea" Is Not

Social Theory and Practice 43 (1):29-54 (2017)
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Abstract

Many consequentialists take their theory to be anchored by a deeply intuitive idea, the “Compelling Idea” that it is always permissible to promote the best outcome. I demonstrate that this Idea is not, in fact, intuitive at all either in its agent-neutral or its evaluator-relative form. There are deeply intuitive ideas concerning the relationship of deontic to telic evaluation, but the Compelling Idea is at best a controversial interpretation of such ideas, not itself one of them. Because there is no Compelling Idea at the heart of consequentialism, there is no initial burden of proof to be discharged nor any air of paradox to be cleared away by its opponents.

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Paul Hurley
Claremont McKenna College

Citations of this work

Consequentializing.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Rejection of Consequentializing.Daniel Muñoz - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (2):79-96.
Non-Compliance Shouldn't Be Better.Andrew T. Forcehimes & Luke Semrau - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1):46-56.

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References found in this work

How Is Weakness of the Will Possible?Donald Davidson - 1969 - In Joel Feinberg (ed.), Moral Concepts. Oxford University Press.
Utilitarianism and the virtues.Philippa Foot - 1985 - Mind 94 (374):196-209.
On the Very Idea of Direction of Fit.Kim Frost - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (4):429-484.
Goodness and desire.Matthew Boyle & Douglas Lavin - 2010 - In Sergio Tenenbaum (ed.), Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good. Oxford University Press. pp. 161--201.
Utilitarianism and the Virtues.Philippa Foot - 1983 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 57 (2):273-283.

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