Deontological Moral Obligations and Non-Welfarist Agent-Relative Values

Michael Smith

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Abstract

Many claim that a plausible moral theory would have to include a principle of beneficence, a principle telling us to produce goods that are both welfarist and agent-neutral. But when we think carefully about the necessary connection between moral obligations and reasons for action, we see that agents have two reasons for action, and two moral obligations: they must not interfere with any agents exercise of his rational capacities and they must do what they can to make sure that agents have rational capacities to exercise. According to this distinctively deontological view of morality, though we are obliged to produce goods, the goods in question are non-welfarist and agent-relative. The value of welfare thus turns out to be, at best, instrumental.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeveloping Deontology
Subtitle of host publicationNew Essays in Ethical Theory
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Pages1-13
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781444361940
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Agent's past self
  • Agents, two moral obligations
  • Correct deliberation, and rational capacities
  • Deontological moral obligations
  • Deontological view of morality
  • Non-welfarist agent-relative
  • non-welfarist and agent-relative
  • Plausible moral theory
  • Reasons, and intrinsic desires
  • Rethinking Hume's strictures

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