Deontic Constraints are Maximizing Rules

Journal of Value Inquiry 54 (4):571-588 (2020)
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Deontic constraints prohibit an agent performing acts of a certain type even when doing so will prevent more instances of that act being performed by others. In this article I show how deontic constraints can be interpreted as either maximizing or non-maximizing rules. I then argue that they should be interpreted as maximizing rules because interpreting them as non-maximizing rules results in a problem with moral advice. Given this conclusion, a strong case can be made that consequentialism provides the best account of deontic constraints.

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Matthew Hammerton
Singapore Management University


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