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Beyond Consequentialism$
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Paul Hurley

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559305

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559305.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Beyond Consequentialism

Paul Hurley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates that whereas standard alternatives to consequentialism are fundamentally theories of the relationship between reasons to act and morally right (or virtuous) action, consequentialism is fundamentally a theory of the relationship between morally right actions and good overall states of affairs. The standard alternatives to consequentialism are theories both of the standards for action set by morality, and of the decisive reasons that we have to conform to such moral standards. Consequentialism, by contrast, is a theory of the standards set by morality, but not, without augmentation, of the rational authority of such moral standards. The example of Carl the card-carrying consequentialist is introduced to demonstrate that consequentialists, unlike their opponents, can consistently maintain that they typically have decisive reasons not to perform the morally right action. Indeed, the theories of practical reasons advocated by act consequentialists such as Peter Singer, appear to provide rational agents with decisive reasons to disregard their own moral standards.

Keywords:   alternatives to consequentialism, reasons, decisive reasons, moral standards, Singer, Carl, rational authority

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