A fault line in ethical theory

Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1):173-200 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


A traditional picture is that cases of deontic constraints--- cases where an act is wrong (or one that there is most reason to not do) even though performing that act will prevent more acts of the same morally (or practically) relevant type from being performed---form a kind of fault line in ethical theory separating (agent-neutral) consequentialist theories from other ethical theories. But certain results in the recent literature, such as those due to Graham Oddie and Peter Milne in "Act and Value", do not sit well this traditional wisdom. My aim in this paper is to argue that both the traditional wisdom and Oddie and Milne are mistaken. I begin by looking more closely at the traditional wisdom and why it fails (§1). Then I develop my account of this fault line in ethical theory and its importance (§2). Finally I show that a diagnosis of where Oddie and Milne go wrong follows as a corollary of this new account (§3). An important upshot will be that discussions of cases of deontic constraints would do best to focus on the account of the nature and importance of the cases identified in this paper rather than continuing to work with the mistaken traditional picture.

Similar books and articles

Should We Draw a Line Between Business And Ethics?Yusuke Kaneko - 2011 - The ACERP 2011 Conference Proceedings 1 (1):195-208.
Faultless or Disagreeement.Andrea Iacona - 2008 - In Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Max Kolbel (eds.), Relative Truth. Oxford University Press. pp. 287.
Men and Women Behaving Badly: Is Fault Dead in English Family Law?Andrew Bainham - 2001 - Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 21 (2):219-238.
Contractual Liability: for Fault or Strict?Simona Selelionytė-Drukteinienė - 2011 - Jurisprudencija: Mokslo darbu žurnalas 18 (4):1417-1441.


Added to PP

168 (#76,955)

6 months
44 (#31,044)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Shyam Nair
Arizona State University

Citations of this work

Value theory.Mark Schroeder - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The fundamental reason for reasons fundamentalism.Mark Schroeder - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3107-3127.
Duty and Doubt.Seth Lazar - 2020 - Journal of Practical Ethics 8 (1):28-55.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
The Possibility of Altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford Clarendon Press.

View all 46 references / Add more references