Exiting The Consequentialist Circle: Two Senses of Bringing It About

Analytic Philosophy 60 (2):130-163 (2019)
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Abstract

Consequentialism is a state of affairs centered moral theory that finds support in state of affairs centered views of value, reason, action, and desire/preference. Together these views form a mutually reinforcing circle. I map an exit route out of this circle by distinguishing between two different senses in which actions can be understood as bringing about states of affairs. All actions, reasons, desires, and values involve bringing about in the first, deflationary sense, but only some appear to involve bringing about in a second, rationalizing sense. I demonstrate that the views making up this circle hold, implausibly, that all reasons, values, desires, and actions involve bringing about in both senses, and that failure to distinguish these senses obscures the implausibility of these views as a set. I demonstrate, in addition, that the distinction blocks two common arguments that otherwise threaten to leverage us back in to the consequentialist circle.

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Paul Hurley
Claremont McKenna College

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