A fault line in ethical theory

Shyam NAIR

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A venerable idea in the history of moral philosophy is that central among the normative notions is the notion of goodness or value. This idea, which can be found at least as early as 1903 in G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica, claims that goodness is central in that all other normative notions can be explained in terms of it. Moore’s approach and the dominant approach to the project of explaining the normative notions of rightness and what we have reason to do is the consequentialist program. While the most famous element of this program is the consequentialist moral theory that says an act is right (i.e., permissible) just in case the outcome of that act is at least as good as the outcome of any alternative act, the consequentialist program in general hopes to similarly explain the notion of a reason in terms of goodness. So the consequentialist theory of practical reason says that an agent has more reason to do some act a than to do some act b just in case the outcome of doing a is better than the outcome of doing b.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-200
Number of pages28
JournalPhilosophical Perspectives
Issue number1
Early online date22 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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