Deontological Decision Theory and Agent-Centered Options

Ethics 127 (3):579-609 (2017)
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Deontologists have long been upbraided for lacking an account of justified decision- making under risk and uncertainty. One response is to develop a deontological decision theory—a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for an act’s being permissible given an agent’s imperfect information. In this article, I show that deontologists can make more use of regular decision theory than some might have thought, but that we must adapt decision theory to accommodate agent- centered options—permissions to favor or sacrifice our own interests, when doing so is overall morally worse. Accommodating options requires more than just amend- ing the decision-theoretic ‘value function’. We must change the decision rule as well.



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Seth Lazar
Australian National University

Citations of this work

Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Consequentializing.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Decision under normative uncertainty.Franz Dietrich & Brian Jabarian - 2022 - Economics and Philosophy 38 (3):372-394.
Moral Uncertainty for Deontologists.Christian Tarsney - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):505-520.

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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
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Alienation, consequentialism, and the demands of morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.
The possibility of parity.Ruth Chang - 2002 - Ethics 112 (4):659-688.

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