Consequentialism and the Nearest and Dearest Objection

Michael Smith

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This chapter suggests that the nearest and dearest objection is best understood as attempting to show that consequentialism is, in Parfit terms, 'indirectly collectively self-defeating'. The concern is that if significant numbers of us act to maximize neutral value we will end up living lives which are not worth living - not worth living because we will have given up precisely those projects that make our lives worth living. Consequentialism is thus indirectly collectively self-defeating: adhering to the injunction to act so as to maximize neutral value is likely to render us all worse off.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMinds, Ethics, and Conditionals
Subtitle of host publicationThemes from the Philosophy of Frank Jackson
PublisherOxford University Press, USA
ISBN (Electronic)9780191708268
ISBN (Print)9780199267989
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Consequentialism
  • Frank jackson
  • Parfit

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