Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara (1998)

Authors
Douglas W. Portmore
Arizona State University
Abstract
In this dissertation, I argue that commonsense morality is best understood as an agent-relative consequentialist theory, that is, as a theory according to which agents ought always to bring about what is, from their own individual perspective, the best available state of affairs. I argue that the agent-relative consequentialist can provide the most plausible explanation for why it is wrong to commit a rights violation even in order to prevent a number of other agents from committing comparable rights violations: agents bear a special responsibility for their own actions and consequently a state of affairs where an agent has herself committed a rights violation is worse, from her perspective, than a state of affairs where a number of other agents have committed comparable rights violations. I also argue that agent-relative consequentialism can accommodate moral options despite being a theory which requires agents always to do the best they can
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