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Published: 05 June 2014

288 Pages


ISBN: 9780199396450

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Commonsense Consequentialism

Wherein Morality Meets Rationality

Douglas W. Portmore

Oxford Moral Theory

  • Highly ambitious in its scope, attempting to systematize our thinking about both morality and rationality.
  • Develops a new kind of consequentialist moral theory, one that ranks outcomes, not according to their impersonal value, but according to how much reason the relevant agent has to desire that each outcome obtains. This agent-relative version of consequentialism can, it is shown, do a better job of accommodating our commonsense moral intuitions than even many versions of deontology can.
  • Argues that it is important for normative theories to be able to evaluate not just individual actions but also sets of actions, consisting in acts that are simple or compound, synchronous or asynchronous, consecutive or inconsecutive, instantaneous or temporally-extended.
  • Argues that the deontic status of an individual action is a function of its role in some larger, temporally-extended plan of action, and that this plan of action is to be evaluated, not with respect to whether the agent will be able to perform the corresponding temporal parts of the plan as they each arise, but with respect to whether, in embarking on the plan now, the agent can secure at the current time her subsequent performance of all the corresponding temporal parts of the plan.

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