- Copyright Page
- Relativized Rankings
- Fault Lines in Ethical Theory
- Actualism, Possibilism, and the Nature of Consequentialism
- Consequentialism, Blame, and Moral Responsibility
- Consequentialism and Reasons for Action
- What Should a Consequentialist Promote?
- Understanding the Demandingness Objection
- Consequentialism and Partiality
- Must I Benefit Myself?
- Supererogation and Consequentialism
- Consequentialism and Promises
- Consequentialism, Ignorance, and Uncertainty
- Consequentialism and Action Guidingness
- Consequentialism and Indeterminacy
- Value Comparability
- Consequentialism, the Separateness of Persons, and Aggregation
- The Alienation Objection to Consequentialism
- Global Consequentialism
- The Role(s) of Rules in Consequentialist Ethics
- Consequentialism, Virtue, and Character
- Population Ethics, the Mere Addition Paradox, and the Structure of Consequentialism
- Deontic Pluralism and the Right Amount of Good
- Conflicts and Cooperation in Act Consequentialism
- The Science of Effective Altruism
- Effective Altruism: A Consequentialist Case Study
- Consequentialism and Nonhuman Animals
- Public Policy, Consequentialism, the Environment, and Nonhuman Animals
- The Love–Hate Relationship between Feminism and Consequentialism
- Act Consequentialism and the No-Difference Challenge
Abstract and Keywords
The actualism/possibilism debate in ethics is about whether counterfactuals of freedom concerning what an agent would freely do if she were in certain circumstances even partly determine that agent’s obligations. This debate arose from an argument against the coherence of utilitarianism in the deontic logic literature. In this chapter, we first trace the historical origins of this debate and then examine actualism, possibilism, and securitism through the lens of consequentialism. After examining their respective benefits and drawbacks, we argue that, contrary to what has been assumed, actualism and securitism both succumb to the so-called nonratifiability problem. In making this argument, we develop this problem in detail and argue that it’s a much more serious problem than has been appreciated. We conclude by arguing that an alternative view, hybridism, is independently the most plausible position and best fits with the nature of consequentialism, partly in light of avoiding the nonratifiability problem.
Yishai Cohen is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. His research focuses on agency, ethics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. He is particularly interested in the relationship between libertarian free will and a variety of issues in ethics, including ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’, the Principle of Alternate Possibilities, and the actualism/possibilism debate.
Travis Timmerman is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Seton Hall University. He specializes in normative ethics, applied ethics, and the philosophy of death. In normative ethics, he primarily works on the actualism/possibilism debate, having recently coauthored the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2019) entry on the topic as well as “How To Be an Actualist and Blame People” in Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility (2019). In the death literature, he focuses on axiological questions about death’s badness. Recent publications include “A Dilemma for Epicureanism” in Philosophical Studies (2019) and “Avoiding the Asymmetry Problem” in Ratio (2018). In applied ethics, he works on issues related to global poverty and questions about the ethics of historical monuments. Publications in applied ethics include “Sometimes There Is Nothing Wrong with Letting a Child Drown” in Analysis (2015) and “A Case for Removing Confederate Monuments” in Oxford University Press’s Ethics Left and Right (2020).
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