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Consequentialize This

Campbell Brown
Ethics
Vol. 121, No. 4 (July 2011), pp. 749-771
DOI: 10.1086/660696
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/660696
Page Count: 23
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Consequentialize This
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Abstract

To ‘consequentialize’ is to take a putatively nonconsequentialist moral theory and show that it is actually just another form of consequentialism. Some have speculated that every moral theory can be consequentialized. If this were so, then consequentialism would be empty; it would have no substantive content. As I argue here, however, this is not so. Beginning with the core consequentialist commitment to ‘maximizing the good’, I formulate a precise definition of consequentialism and demonstrate that, given this definition, several sorts of moral theory resist consequentialization. My strategy is to decompose consequentialism into three conditions, which I call ‘agent neutrality’, ‘no moral dilemmas’, and ‘dominance’, and then to exhibit some moral theories which violate each of these.

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