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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 1$
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Mark Timmons

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693269

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693269.001.0001

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You don’t have to do what’s best! A problem for consequentialists and other teleologists 1

You don’t have to do what’s best! A problem for consequentialists and other teleologists 1

Chapter:
(p.166) 8 You don’t have to do what’s best! A problem for consequentialists and other teleologists1
Source:
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 1
Author(s):

S. Andrew Schroeder

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693269.003.0008

Define teleology as the view that practical requirements hold in virtue of facts about value or goodness. Most versions of consequentialism, as well as many deontological views, are teleological. In fact, some philosophers (e.g., Dreier, Smith) argue that all plausible moral theories can be understood teleologically, or “consequentialized”. However, the paper argues that certain well-known cases show that teleology must at minimum presuppose certain facts about what an agent ought to know, and that this means that requirements can't generally hold in virtue of facts about value or goodness. The paper proceeds to show that even if we grant those ‘ought’s, teleology faces a further problem: a positive justification of teleology seems to require an invalid form of argument -- O(X); if X, then O(Y); therefore O(Y). The paper concludes by identifying two families of quasi-teleological views that are not vulnerable to the author’s objections: non-teleological consequentialism and scalar consequentialism

Keywords:   teleology, consequentialism, consequentialize, deontology, practical reason, subjective obligation, scalar consequentialism

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