The Argument from Self-Creation: A Refutation of Act-Consequentialism and a Defense of Moral Options

American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (4):315 (2011)
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Abstract

The standard form of act-consequentialism requires us to perform the action with the best consequences; it allows choice between moral options only on those rare occasions when several actions produce equally good results. This paper argues for moral options and thus against act-consequentialism. The argument turns on the insight that some valuable things cannot exist unless our moral system allows options. One such thing is the opportunity for individuals to enact plans for their life from among alternatives. Because planning one’s life has value, and because it requires moral options, a world governed by a moral system that admits of options is better than one governed by act-consequentialism. The paper argues that these facts entail that morality admits of a significant number of moral options; act-consequentialism is false.

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Alex Rajczi
Claremont McKenna College

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