Journal of Applied Philosophy, 18(2),
An option range is a set of alternative actions available to an agent at a given time. I ask how a moral theory’s account of option ranges relates to its recommendations about deliberative procedure (DP) and criterion of rightness (CR).
I apply this question to Act Consequentialism (AC), which tells us, at any time, to perform the action with the best consequences in our option range then. If anyone can employ this command as a DP, or assess (direct or indirect) compliance with it as a CR, someone must be able to tell which actions fit this description. Since the denseness of possibilia entails that any option range is indefinitely large, no one can do this. So no one can know that any option has ever emerged from any range as the best option in that range. However we come to know that a given option is right, we never come to know it in AC’s way.
It is often observed that AC cannot give us a DP. AC cannot give us a CR either, unless we are omniscient. So Act Consequentialism is useless.
||act consequentialism; ethics; philosophy of action; relevant alternatives; practical choice; dilemma
||Arts > Philosophy
||01 Aug 2006
||02 Dec 2010 19:53
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