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Douglas W. Portmore [72]Douglas Portmore [6]Douglas William Portmore [1]
  1. Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality.Douglas W. Portmore - 2011 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press USA.
    Commonsense Consequentialism is a book about morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, Douglas W. Portmore defends a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons. Broadly construed, consequentialism is the view that an act's deontic status is determined by how its outcome ranks relative to those of the available alternatives on some evaluative ranking. Portmore argues that outcomes should be (...)
  2. Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    The book concerns what I take to be the least controversial normative principle concerning action: you ought to perform your best option—best, that is, in terms of whatever ultimately matters. The book sets aside the question of what ultimately matters so as to focus on more basic issues, such as: What are our options? Do I have the option of typing out the cure for cancer if that’s what I would in fact do if I had the right intentions at (...)
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  3. Consequentializing.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This is an encyclopedia entry on consequentializing. It explains what consequentializing is, what makes it possible, why someone might be motivated to consequentialize, and how to consequentialize a non-consequentialist theory.
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  4. A Comprehensive Account of Blame: Self-Blame, Non-Moral Blame, and Blame for the Non-Voluntary.Douglas W. Portmore - 2022 - In Andreas Carlsson (ed.), Self-Blame and Moral Responsibility. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
    Blame is multifarious. It can be passionate or dispassionate. It can be expressed or kept private. We blame both the living and the dead. And we blame ourselves as well as others. What’s more, we blame ourselves, not only for our moral failings, but also for our non-moral failings: for our aesthetic bad taste, gustatory self-indulgence, or poor athletic performance. And we blame ourselves both for things over which we exerted agential control (e.g., our voluntary acts) and for things over (...)
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  5. Agent-Relative vs. Agent-Neutral.Douglas W. Portmore - 2022 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley.
    This is a general introduction to the agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction.
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  6. Maximalism and Moral Harmony.Douglas W. Portmore - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2):318-341.
    Maximalism is the view that an agent is permitted to perform a certain type of action if and only if she is permitted to perform some instance of this type, where φ-ing is an instance of ψ-ing if and only if φ-ing entails ψ-ing but not vice versa. Now, the aim of this paper is not to defend maximalism, but to defend a certain account of our options that when combined with maximalism results in a theory that accommodates the idea (...)
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  7. Consequentializing moral theories.Douglas W. Portmore - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (1):39–73.
    To consequentialize a non-consequentialist theory, take whatever considerations that the non-consequentialist theory holds to be relevant to determining the deontic statuses of actions and insist that those considerations are relevant to determining the proper ranking of outcomes. In this way, the consequentialist can produce an ordering of outcomes that when combined with her criterion of rightness yields the same set of deontic verdicts that the non-consequentialist theory yields. In this paper, I argue that any plausible non-consequentialist theory can be consequentialized. (...)
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  8. Consequentializing agent‐centered restrictions: A Kantsequentialist approach.Douglas W. Portmore - 2023 - Analytic Philosophy 64 (4):443-467.
    There is, on a given moral view, an agent-centered restriction against performing acts of a certain type if that view prohibits agents from performing an instance of that act-type even to prevent two or more others from each performing a morally comparable instance of that act-type. The fact that commonsense morality includes many such agent-centered restrictions has been seen by several philosophers as a decisive objection against consequentialism. Despite this, I argue that agent-centered restrictions are more plausibly accommodated within a (...)
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  9. Consequentializing.Douglas Portmore - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (2):329-347.
    A growing trend of thought has it that any plausible nonconsequentialist theory can be consequentialized, which is to say that it can be given a consequentialist representation. In this essay, I explore both whether this claim is true and what its implications are. I also explain the procedure for consequentializing a nonconsequentialist theory and give an account of the motivation for doing so.
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  10. Latitude, Supererogation, and Imperfect Duties.Douglas W. Portmore - 2023 - In David Heyd (ed.), Springer Handbook of Supererogation. Springer.
  11. Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2023 - In Christian B. Miller (ed.), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Ethics. Bloomsbury Academic.
  12. Welfare, Achievement, and Self-Sacrifice.Douglas W. Portmore - 2008 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 2 (2):1-29.
    Many philosophers hold that the achievement of one's goals can contribute to one's welfare apart from whatever independent contributions that the objects of those goals or the processes by which they are achieved make. Call this the Achievement View, and call those who accept it achievementists. In this paper, I argue that achievementists should accept both that one factor that affects how much the achievement of a goal contributes to one’s welfare is the amount that one has invested in that (...)
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  13. Desert, Control, and Moral Responsibility.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - Acta Analytica 34 (4):407-426.
    In this paper, I take it for granted both that there are two types of blameworthiness—accountability blameworthiness and attributability blameworthiness—and that avoidability is necessary only for the former. My task, then, is to explain why avoidability is necessary for accountability blameworthiness but not for attributability blameworthiness. I argue that what explains this is both the fact that these two types of blameworthiness make different sorts of reactive attitudes fitting and that only one of these two types of attitudes requires having (...)
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  14. Are Moral Reasons Morally Overriding?Douglas W. Portmore - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (4):369-388.
    In this paper, I argue that those moral theorists who wish to accommodate agent-centered options and supererogatory acts must accept both that the reason an agent has to promote her own interests is a nonmoral reason and that this nonmoral reason can prevent the moral reason she has to sacrifice those interests for the sake of doing more to promote the interests of others from generating a moral requirement to do so. These theorists must, then, deny that moral reasons morally (...)
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  15. Transitivity, Moral Latitude, and Supererogation.Douglas W. Portmore - 2017 - Utilitas 29 (3):286-298.
    On what I take to be the standard account of supererogation, an act is supererogatory if and only if it is morally optional and there is more moral reason to perform it than to perform some permissible alternative. And, on this account, an agent has more moral reason to perform one act than to perform another if and only if she morally ought to prefer how things would be if she were to perform the one to how things would be (...)
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  16. Position‐relative consequentialism, agent‐centered options, and supererogation.Douglas Portmore - 2003 - Ethics 113 (2):303-332.
    In this paper, I argue that maximizing act-consequentialism (MAC)—the theory that holds that agents ought always to act so as to produce the best available state of affairs—can accommodate both agent-centered options and supererogatory acts. Thus I will show that MAC can accommodate the view that agents often have the moral option of either pursuing their own personal interests or sacrificing those interests for the sake of the impersonal good. And I will show that MAC can accommodate the idea that (...)
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  17. Control, Attitudes, and Accountability.Douglas W. Portmore - 2013 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford studies in agency and responsibility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    It seems that we can be directly accountable for our reasons-responsive attitudes—e.g., our beliefs, desires, and intentions. Yet, we rarely, if ever, have volitional control over such attitudes, volitional control being the sort of control that we exert over our intentional actions. This presents a trilemma: (Horn 1) deny that we can be directly accountable for our reasons-responsive attitudes, (Horn 2) deny that φ’s being under our control is necessary for our being directly accountable for φ-ing, or (Horn 3) deny (...)
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  18. Combining teleological ethics with evaluator relativism: A promising result.Douglas W. Portmore - 2005 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 86 (1):95–113.
    Consequentialism is an agent-neutral teleological theory, and deontology is an agent-relative non-teleological theory. I argue that a certain hybrid of the two—namely, non-egoistic agent-relative teleological ethics (NATE)—is quite promising. This hybrid takes what is best from both consequentialism and deontology while leaving behind the problems associated with each. Like consequentialism and unlike deontology, NATE can accommodate the compelling idea that it is always permissible to bring about the best available state of affairs. Yet unlike consequentialism and like deontology, NATE accords (...)
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  19. Perform Your Best Option.Douglas W. Portmore - 2013 - Journal of Philosophy 110 (8):436-459.
    We ought to perform our best option—that is, the option that we have most reason, all things considered, to perform. This is perhaps the most fundamental and least controversial of all normative principles concerning action. Yet, it is not, I believe, well understood. For even setting aside questions about what our options are and what our reasons are, there are prior questions concerning how best to formulate the principle. In this paper, I address these questions. One of the more interesting (...)
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  20. Can an act-consequentialist theory be agent relative?Douglas Portmore - 2001 - American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (4):363-77.
    A theory is agent neutral if it gives every agent the same set of aims and agent relative otherwise. Most philosophers take act-consequentialism to be agent-neutral, but I argue that at the heart of consequentialism is the idea that all acts are morally permissible in virtue of their propensity to promote value and that, given this, it is possible to have a theory that is both agent-relative and act-consequentialist. Furthermore, I demonstrate that agent-relative act-consequentialism can avoid the counterintuitive implications associated (...)
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  21. Desire fulfillment and posthumous harm.Douglas W. Portmore - 2007 - American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (1):27 - 38.
    This paper argues that the standard account of posthumous harm is untenable. The standard account presupposes the desire-fulfillment theory of welfare, but I argue that no plausible version of this theory can allow for the possibility of posthumous harm. I argue that there are, at least, two problems with the standard account from the perspective of a desire-fulfillment theorist. First, as most desire-fulfillment theorists acknowledge, the theory must be restricted in such a way that only those desires that pertain to (...)
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  22. Morality and Practical Reasons.Douglas W. Portmore - 2021 - Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    As Socrates famously noted, there is no more important question than how we ought to live. The answer to this question depends on how the reasons that we have for living in various different ways combine and compete. To illustrate, suppose that I've just received a substantial raise. What should I do with the extra money? I have most moral reason to donate it to effective charities but most self-interested reason to spend it on luxuries for myself. So, whether I (...)
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  23. Moral Worth and Our Ultimate Moral Concerns.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics.
    Some right acts have what philosophers call moral worth. A right act has moral worth if and only if its agent deserves credit for having acted rightly in this instance. And I argue that an agent deserves credit for having acted rightly if and only if her act issues from an appropriate set of concerns, where the appropriateness of these concerns is a function what her ultimate moral concerns should be. Two important upshots of the resulting account of moral worth (...)
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  24. Dual-ranking act-consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (3):409 - 427.
    Dual-ranking act-consequentialism (DRAC) is a rather peculiar version of act-consequentialism. Unlike more traditional forms of act-consequentialism, DRAC doesn’t take the deontic status of an action to be a function of some evaluative ranking of outcomes. Rather, it takes the deontic status of an action to be a function of some non-evaluative ranking that is in turn a function of two auxiliary rankings that are evaluative. I argue that DRAC is promising in that it can accommodate certain features of commonsense morality (...)
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  25.  42
    Maximalism versus Omnism about Permissibility.Douglas Portmore - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):427-452.
    Roughly speaking, maximalism is the view that only certain options are to be assessed in terms of whether they have some right‐making property (such as that of producing optimal consequences), whereas omnism is the view that all options are to be assessed in terms of whether they have this property. I argue that maximalism is preferable to omnism because it provides a more plausible solution to what's known as the problem of act versions and is not subject to any significant (...)
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  26.  69
    Kantian Telicism: Our Legitimate Ends and Their Moral Significance.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This chapter explains a key tenet of the moral theory that I call Kantsequentialism. That tenet is Kantian Telicism: the view that a subject’s will along with the value of things determine their legitimate ends, which include all their discretionary ends (say, mastering kung fu or traveling the world) as well as the following four obligatory ends: (a) never manifesting a lack of recognition respect for a person, (b) the well-being of every other existing sentient being, (c) the maximization of (...)
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  27. Uncertainty, Indeterminacy, and Agent-Centred Constraints.Douglas W. Portmore - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (2):284-298.
    Common-sense morality includes various agent-centred constraints, including ones against killing unnecessarily and breaking a promise. However, it's not always clear whether, had an agent ϕ-ed, she would have violated a constraint. And sometimes the reason for this is not that we lack knowledge of the relevant facts, but that there is no fact about whether her ϕ-ing would have constituted a constraint-violation. What, then, is a constraint-accepting theory to say about whether it would have been permissible for her to have (...)
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  28. Consequentialism and Moral Rationalism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2011 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.
    IN THIS PAPER, I make a presumptive case for moral rationalism: the view that agents can be morally required to do only what they have decisive reason to do, all things considered. And I argue that this view leads us to reject all traditional versions of act‐consequentialism. I begin by explaining how moral rationalism leads us to reject utilitarianism.
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  29.  46
    Kantsequentialism and Agent-Centered Options.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    In this, the sixth chapter of _Kantsequentialism: A Morality of Ends_, I argue that the duty of beneficence is best understood as a duty both (a) to adopt helping the needy as a serious, major, continually relevant, life-shaping end and (b) to refrain from acting in a way that would manifest one’s failure to do so. What’s more, I argue that Kantsequentialism offers us the best account of whether an act manifests a failure to have adopted helping the needy as (...)
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  30. Teleological Reasons.Douglas W. Portmore - 2018 - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press.
    I explain what teleological reasons are, distinguish between direct and indirect teleological reasons, and discuss both whether all practical reasons are teleological and whether all teleological reasons are direct.
     
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  31.  39
    Kantsequentialism and Agent-Centered Restrictions.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    There are two alternative approaches to accommodating an agent-centered restriction against, say, φ-ing. One approach is to prohibit agents from ever φ-ing. For instance, there could be an absolute prohibition against breaking a promise. The other approach is to require agents both to adopt an end that can be achieved only by their not φ-ing and to give this end priority over that of minimizing overall instances of φ-ing. For instance, each agent could be required both to adopt the end (...)
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  32.  92
    Kantsequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This is a draft of Chapter Three of the book I'm working on entitled: Kantsequentialism: A Morality of Ends. This chapter outlines my favored moral theory: Kantian consequentialism or Kantsequentialism, for short. This theory takes what's best from both utilitarianism and Kantianism while leaving behind the problems associated with each.
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  33. Rule-Consequentialism and Irrelevant Others: Douglas W. Portmore.Douglas W. Portmore - 2009 - Utilitas 21 (3):368-376.
    In this article, I argue that Brad Hooker's rule-consequentialism implausibly implies that what earthlings are morally required to sacrifice for the sake of helping their less fortunate brethren depends on whether or not other people exist on some distant planet even when these others would be too far away for earthlings to affect.
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  34. Does the total principle have any repugnant implications?Douglas W. Portmore - 1999 - Ratio 12 (1):80–98.
    On the Total Principle, the best state of affairs (ceteris paribus) is the one with the greatest net sum of welfare value. Parfit rejects this principle, because he believes that it implies the Repugnant Conclusion, the conclusion that for any large population of people, all with lives well worth living, there will be some much larger population whose existence would be better, even though its members all have lives that are only barely worth living. Recently, however, a number of philosophers (...)
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  35. Introduction.Douglas W. Portmore - 2020 - In The Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. New York, USA: Oup Usa. pp. 1-21.
  36.  83
    The Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore (ed.) - 2020 - New York, USA: Oup Usa.
    Consequentialism is a major moral theory and a rival to such non-consequentialist theories as deontology, contractualism, and virtue ethics. It is the view that the only thing that matters morally is the consequences of an action. Thus, consequentialists hold that, to assess an act, we must first evaluate and rank the various ways things could turn out depending on whether it or some alternative act is performed. Its moral permissibility, then, depends on how its consequences compare to those of its (...)
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  37. Deserving to Suffer.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    I argue that the blameworthy deserve to suffer in that they deserve to feel guilty and their feeling guilty necessitates their suffering the unpleasant experience of appreciating their culpability for their wrongdoing. I argue that the blameworthy deserve to feel guilty, because, as a matter of justice, the blameworthy owe it to those whom they’ve culpably wronged (a) to hold themselves accountable, (b) to fully appreciate their culpability and the moral significance of their wrongdoing, and (c) to have and to (...)
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  38. Imperfect Reasons and Rational Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2012 - Noûs 46 (1):24 - 60.
    Agents often face a choice of what to do. And it seems that, in most of these choice situations, the relevant reasons do not require performing some particular act, but instead permit performing any of numerous act alternatives. This is known as the basic belief. Below, I argue that the best explanation for the basic belief is not that the relevant reasons are incommensurable (Raz) or that their justifying strength exceeds the requiring strength of opposing reasons (Gert), but that they (...)
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  39. Kantianism versus Utilitarianism.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    I argue that Kantianism and utilitarianism have the opposite strengths and weaknesses. Whereas Kantianism but not utilitarianism accords with our commonsense views about morality, utilitarianism but not Kantianism accords with our commonsense views about action and reasons for action.
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  40.  26
    Introduction to Kantsequentialism: A Morality of Ends.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This is the introduction to my book Kantsequentialism: A Morality of Ends.
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  41. Can consequentialism be reconciled with our common-sense moral intuitions?Douglas W. Portmore - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 91 (1):1-19.
    Consequentialism is usually thought to be unable to accommodate many of our commonsense moral intuitions. In particular, it has seemed incompatible with the intuition that agents should not violate someone's rights even in order to prevent numerous others from committing comparable rights violations. Nevertheless, I argue that a certain form of consequentialism can accommodate this intuition: agent-relative consequentialism--the view according to which agents ought always to bring about what is, from their own individual perspective, the best available outcome. Moreover, I (...)
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  42.  66
    Replies to Gert, Hurley, and Tenenbaum.Douglas W. Portmore - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):241-255.
    Replies to Joshua Gert, Paul Hurley, and Sergio Tenenbaum and their criticisms of my book Commonsense Consequentialism.
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  43. Moral Theory.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This is the first chapter of a book that I'm writing entitled Kantsequentialism: A Morality of Ends. The chapter has six sections: (1) The Distinction between a Moral Theory and a Complete Account of Morality, (2) The Best Explanation, (3) Fitting the Data as Opposed to the Facts, (4) Epistemic Justification and Phenomenal Conservatism, (5) Neither Overfitting nor Underfitting the Data, and (6) Trusting Our Moral Intuitions. Thus, the chapter begins by providing an account of what a moral theory is (...)
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  44. McNaughton and Rawling on the Agent-Relative/Agent-Neutral Distinction.Douglas Portmore - 2001 - Utilitas 13 (3):350-356.
    In this paper, I criticize David McNaughton and Piers Rawling's formalization of the agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction. I argue that their formalization is unable to accommodate an important ethical distinction between two types of conditional obligations. I then suggest a way of revising their formalization so as to fix the problem.
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  45. Maximalism and Rational Control.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    Maximalism is the view that if an agent is permitted to perform a certain type of action (say, baking), this is in virtue of the fact that she is permitted to perform some instance of this type (say, baking a pie), where φ-ing is an instance of ψ-ing if and only if φ-ing entails ψ-ing but not vice versa. Now, the point of this paper is not to defend maximalism, but to defend a certain account of our options that when (...)
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  46.  34
    Latitude, Supererogation, and Imperfect Duties.Douglas W. Portmore - 2023 - In David Heyd (ed.), Handbook of Supererogation. Springer Nature Singapore. pp. 63-86.
    In this chapter, I seek a better understanding of both supererogation and imperfect duties in the hopes of coming up with an account of what it is to go above and beyond the call of an imperfect duty. I argue that we can go above and beyond the call of duty, not only by performing actions but also by forming attitudes. And I argue that what’s constitutive of fulfilling an imperfect duty is forming certain attitudes. I conclude, therefore, that we (...)
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  47. Morality, Rationality, and Performance Entailment.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    The performance of one option can entail the performance of another. For instance, baking an apple pie entails baking a pie. Now, suppose that both of these options—baking a pie and baking an apple pie—are permissible. This raises the issue of which, if either, is more fundamental than the other. Is baking a pie permissible because it’s permissible to bake an apple pie? Or is baking an apple pie permissible because it’s permissible to bake a pie? Or are they equally (...)
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  48. 7 Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2011 - In Christian Miller (ed.), Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum. pp. 143.
  49. Acts, Attitudes, and Rational Control.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    I argue that when determining whether an agent ought to perform an act, we should not hold fixed the fact that she’s going to form certain attitudes (and, here, I’m concerned with only reasons-responsive attitudes such as beliefs, desires, and intentions). For, as I argue, agents have, in the relevant sense, just as much control over which attitudes they form as which acts they perform. This is important because what effect an act will have on the world depends not only (...)
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  50. What’s a rational self-torturer to do?Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This paper concerns Warren Quinn’s famous “The Puzzle of the Self-Torturer.” I argue that even if we accept his assumption that practical rationality is purely instrumental such that what he ought to do is simply a function of how the relevant options compare to each other in terms of satisfying his actual preferences that doesn’t mean that every explanation as to why he shouldn’t advance to the next level must appeal to the idea that so advancing would be suboptimal in (...)
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