A Defense of Agent-Centered Prerogatives

Dissertation, Brown University (1995)

The project of the dissertation is to defend the possibility of agent-centered prerogatives. Consequentialist moral theorists have recently argued that such prerogatives are impossible because of two considerations: first, that if there is a moral reason in given situation, there is a moral requirement in that situation , and second, there is a moral reason in every situation because the moral reason to promote the good applies in every situation. I argue that not all moral reasons ground a moral requirement when decisive and sometimes a moral reason to promote the good does not ground a requirement. A defense of prerogatives is acceptable, however, only if it is consistent with the existence of some obligations to promote the welfare of others. I contend that while there are some duties to aid others, and hence there is some principle of beneficence, a principle of beneficence need not give a moral reason to promote every good, but only those goods that a patient is entitled to and that is part of an agent's fair share of responsibility for beneficence
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