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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 8$
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Mark C. Timmons

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198828310

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198828310.001.0001

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The Focus of Interpersonal Morality

The Focus of Interpersonal Morality

(p.32) 2 The Focus of Interpersonal Morality
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 8

Dale Dorsey

Oxford University Press

An important question that a theory of morality must answer concerns morality’s focus: what about people matters? What do we take into consideration when we consider a person from the moral point of view? This paper discusses two answers to this question, and proposes a third. The first, and perhaps most obvious, answer is welfarist: what matters about people, from the moral point of view, is their well-being, the quality of their lives. But a welfarist account of the focus of interpersonal morality has faced a number of challenges, to which a preferentist account has been thought to adequately respond. However, this paper argues that neither a welfarist nor a preferentist account of the focus of morality is adequate. It proposes an alternative, according to which the focus of morality can and should reflect the special normative circumstances that people inhabit given their normatively significant roles, associations, or commitments.

Keywords:   morality, welfarism, preferences, roles, agency, autonomy

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