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Commonsense ConsequentialismWherein Morality Meets Rationality$
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Douglas W. Portmore

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199794539

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794539.001.0001

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Commonsense Consequentialism

Commonsense Consequentialism

(p.200) 7 Commonsense Consequentialism
Commonsense Consequentialism

Douglas W. Portmore

Oxford University Press

The chapter argues that the best version of act-utilitarianism (as well as the best version of consequentialism) will: (1) evaluate sets of actions and not just individual actions, (2) presuppose securitism as opposed to actualism or possibilism, (3) index permissions and obligations to times, and (4) possess a dual-ranking structure. It argues for a version of indirect consequentialism according to which the moral permissibility of an individual action is determined by whether or not it is contained within some maximal set of actions that is itself morally permissible. This version of indirect consequentialism—viz., commonsense consequentialism—is able to accommodate all the basic features of commonsense morality: special obligations, agent-favoring options, agent-sacrificing options, agent-centered restrictions, supererogatory acts, the self-other asymmetry, and even the idea that some acts are supererogatory in the sense of going above and beyond what imperfect duty requires.

Keywords:   actualism, possibilism, maximal sets of actions, securitism, imperfect duties, supererogatory acts, superperfecterogatory acts, agglomeration, Professor Procrastinate

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