In the last three chapters we have examined a number of different normative factors. I have not attempted an exhaustive survey of all the normative factors that have ever been endorsed, nor even all those that have been endorsed in the name of commonsense morality. But I have, I believe, at least touched upon most of the significant factors recognized by our common moral intuitions (although it must be admitted that, for the most part, conventional duties were only discussed as a class). Each of these factors, as we saw, is surrounded by controversy. In some cases, it is controversial whether the factor truly has any significance at all from the moral point of view. In other cases, it is unclear whether the factor matters in its own right -- that is, whether it belongs on a list of basic normative factors -- or whether, alternatively, it derives its significance from some other, more fundamental factor. And in every case there were questions of detail concerning the precise content of the factor or its scope.
But despite these controversies, and despite the apparent diversity of the factors in question, there is a common theme that emerges. Or rather, it emerges once we include one or more factors beyond our first, goodness of consequences. That common theme consists in an attack on consequentialism. More particularly, it consists in the objection that consequentialism permits too much, that is, that consequentialism is inadequate as a moral theory because it permits actions that are not, in fact, morally permissible (see 3.1).
Obviously enough, this is a claim that is denied by consequentialists; but it is the acceptance of this claim that unites deontologists, all of whom fault consequentialism for failing to incorporate one or another constraint. Indeed, from the intuitive point of view (if nothing else), virtually all of the
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Publication information: Book title: Normative Ethics. Contributors: Shelly Kagan - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 153.