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Truth and Acceptance Conditions for Moral Statements Can Be Identical: Further Support for Subjective Consequentialism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2009

SCOTT FORSCHLER*
Affiliation:
Independent scholarscottforschler@yahoo.com

Abstract

One of Peter Railton's arguments against subjective consequentialism is that it would erase the distinction between truth conditions and acceptance conditions for moral statements. It is assumed that if moral statements describe objective facts, as do scientific facts, then there should be times when, as in science, we are wholly justified via our currently available evidence in accepting a statement which is actually false. This analogy does not hold, because ethics is about the justifiability of our responses to situations, not about facts which entail evidence we may not have complete access to, as is the case in science. For this and other reasons, objective versions of consequentialism should be abandoned, and subjective versions developed.

Type
Research Article
Information
Utilitas , Volume 21 , Issue 3 , September 2009 , pp. 337 - 346
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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References

1 Railton, Peter, ‘Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (1984), p. 152Google Scholar.

2 Howard-Snyder, Francis, ‘The Rejection of Objective Consequentialism’, Utilitas 9 (1997), p. 247CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Wiland, Eric, ‘Monkeys, Typewriters, and Objective Consequentialism’, Ratio 18 (2005), pp. 252–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Railton, ‘Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’, p. 153.

5 Railton, ‘Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’, p. 155.

6 Richard Hare makes this same point in his ‘Foundationalism and Coherentism in Ethics’, Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology, ed. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Mark Timmons (Oxford, 1996).

7 Railton, ‘Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’, p. 159.

8 Railton, ‘Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’, p. 155.

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