Consequentialism, Collective Action, and Causal Impotence

Ethics, Policy and Environment 23 (3):336-349 (2020)
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This paper offers some refinements to a particular objection to act consequentialism, the “causal impotence” objection. According to proponents of the objection, when we find circumstances in which severe, unnecessary harms result entirely from voluntary acts, it seems as if we should be able to indict at least one act among those acts, but act consequentialism appears to lack the resources to offer this indictment. Our aim is to show is that the most promising response on behalf of act consequentialism, the threshold argument, cannot offer a fully general prescription about what to do in cases of collective action.
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