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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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Harnessing Williams to Sharpen the Challenge to Consequentialism

Harnessing Williams to Sharpen the Challenge to Consequentialism

(p.62) 4 Harnessing Williams to Sharpen the Challenge to Consequentialism
Beyond Consequentialism

Paul Hurley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter harnesses Bernard Williams' classic alienation and integrity arguments against Smart's act utilitarian consequentialism in order to sharpen the challenge to consequentialism. The first Williams-inspired sharpening of the challenge is built upon his demonstration that the theory presupposes that rational agents have good non-impersonal lower-order reasons. Insofar as the impersonal standpoint makes any demands upon such a rational agent, such demands reflect an additional higher-order reason. Such a higher-order reason, however, is but one among the agent's reasons, and Gary Watson's work on higher-order desires allows us to see that there is no reason to accord such a higher-order reason any special place among the agent's reasons. The second Williams-inspired sharpening of the challenge builds upon his suggestion that among agents' lower-order reasons, the reasons properly taken into account in any higher-order ranking of states of affairs, are certain distinctively moral lower-order reasons: impersonal evaluation of states of affairs presupposes non-impersonal moral reasons, hence the impersonal standpoint is not the fundamental moral standpoint.

Keywords:   higher-order, lower-order, impersonal standpoint, Bernard Williams, Gary Watson, integrity, alienation

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