Should we prevent deontological wrongdoing?

Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2049-2068 (2016)
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Abstract

Is there a reason to prevent deontological wrongdoing—an action that is wrong due to the violation of a decisive deontological constraint? This question is perplexing. On the one hand, the intuitive response seems to be positive, both when the question is considered in the abstract and when it is considered with regard to paradigmatic cases of deontological wrongdoing such as Bridge and Transplant. On the other hand, common theoretical accounts of deontological wrongdoing do not entail this answer, since not preventing wrongdoing does not necessarily amount to doing harm or intending harm, for example. The puzzle is reinforced due to the fact that the intuitive response to other cases seems to be different, namely that there is no reason in favour of preventing deontological wrongdoing. This question is thus interesting in itself. It might also shed light on additional questions such as the “paradox of deontology” and the appropriate response to wrongful actions more generally. Yet, despite its importance, this question is typically overlooked. The paper explores this question.

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Re'em Segev
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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