Consequentialism and Its Demands: The Role of Institutions

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It isn’t saying much to claim that morality is demanding; the question, rather, is: can morality be so demanding that we have reason not to follow its dictates? According to many, it can, if that morality is a consequentialist one. This paper takes the plausibility and coherence of this objection – the Demandingness Objection – as a given. Our question, therefore, is how to respond to the Objection. We put forward a response that we think has not received sufficient attention in the literature: institutional consequentialism. This is a consequentialist view that, however, requires institutional systems, and not individuals, to follow the consequentialist principle. We first introduce the Objection, then explain the theory of institutional consequentialism and how it responds to the objection. In the remainder of the paper, we defend the view against potential objections.
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First archival date: 2018-06-15
Latest version: 2 (2018-07-22)
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