Intricate ethics and inviolability: Frances Kamm's nonconsequentialism

Ratio 21 (2):231–238 (2008)
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Frances Kamm’s Intricate Ethics1 lives up to its title. It presents the methods and contents of Kamm’s nonconsequentialist ethical theory with discussion of some alternatives, both substantive and methodological. The main focus is on the distinctions that non- consequentialist ethical theory draws between different ways of bringing about states of affairs. This is presented in Kamm’s char- acteristic style. Readers should expect highly complex, subtle arguments as Kamm draws out fine-grained distinctions from intuitive responses to cases. Those who find their intuitions less than firm at such a level of detail may find Intricate Ethics frustrat- ing at times. Nonetheless, it is a highly significant work. It dis- cusses issues at the heart of nonconsequentialist ethical theory with prodigious insight and clarity of thought. Even those whose intuitions prevent them from following Kamm to her conclusions will find the discussion along the way richly rewarding.

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Fiona Woollard
University of Southampton


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