Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Ratio: December 2011, Vol. 24, No. 4

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Ratio: December 2011, Vol. 24, No. 4

Article excerpt

Deontological Moral Obligations and Non-Welfarist Agent-Relative Values, MICHAEL SMITH

Many claim that a plausible moral theory would have to include a principle of beneficence, a principle telling us to produce goods that are both welfarist and agent-neutral. But when we think carefully about the necessary connection between moral obligations and reasons for action, we see that agents have two reasons for action, and two moral obligations: they must not interfere with any agent's exercise of his rational capacities, and they must do what they can to make sure that agents have rational capacities to exercise. According to this distinctively deontological view of morality, though we are obliged to produce goods, the goods in question are nonwelfarist and agent-relative. The value of welfare thus turns out to be, at best, instrumental.

Recalcitrant Pluralism, PHILIP STRATTON-LAKE

In this article, the author argues that the best form of deontology is one understood in terms of prima facie duties. He outlines how these duties are to be understood and shows how they offer a plausible and elegant connection between the reason why we ought to do certain acts, the normative reasons we have to do these acts, the reason why moral agents will do them, and the reasons certain people have to resent someone who does not do them. The author then argues that this form of deontology makes it harder to unify a pluralistic ethics under a single consequentialist principle in a plausible way, and illustrates this with reference to Rob Shaver's consequentialist arguments.

Defending Double Effect, RALPH WEDGWOOD

This essay defends a version of the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE)--the doctrine that there is normally a stronger reason against an act that has a bad state of affairs as one of its intended effects than against an otherwise similar act that has that bad state of affairs as an unintended effect. First, a precise account of this version of the DDE is given. Secondly, some suggestions are made about why we should believe the DDE, and about why it is true. Finally, a solution is developed to the so-called closeness problem that any version of the DDE must face. …

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