Consequentialism and Reasons for Action

In Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. Oxford: OUP. pp. 179–196 (2020)
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Consequentialist theories often neglect reasons for action. They offer theories of the rightness or the goodness of actions, or of virtue, but they typically do not include theories of reasons. However, consequentialists can give plausible accounts of reasons. This chapter examines some different ways in which such accounts might be developed, focusing on Act Consequentialism and Rule Consequentialism and on the relationship between reasons and rightness. It notes that adding claims about reasons to consequentialist theories may introduce a welcome kind of complexity, and in doing so may help to make consequentialist approaches to ethics more appealing. For example, it may help consequentialists to explain the ideas of moral constraints and moral options.

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Christopher Woodard
Nottingham University


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