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The Act Itself$
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Jonathan Bennett

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198237914

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019823791X.001.0001

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(p.143) 9 Demands
The Act Itself

Jonathan Bennett

Oxford University Press

If making/allowing lacks basic moral significance, morality seems to be terribly demanding. It could be demanding in either of two ways: by answering too many practical questions, leaving too few to be resolved on non‐moral grounds, or by thwarting too many of our natural, non‐moral desires. The former is irrelevant to making/allowing but the ‘thwarting’ kind of demandingness is not, and attempts by Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick to fend off the threat are failures. The ‘thwarting’ threat might be countered by adopting a morality that requires or permits more attention to one's own interests than to others’, but when that is combined with the moral neutrality of making/allowing, the result is requirement or permission for behaviour that no decent person would agree to.

Keywords:   Bentham, demandingness, demands, Mill, self‐interest, Sidgwick

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