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Demandingness, Integrity, and Consequentialism: How Consequentialist Theories Can Avoid the Demandingness Objection

Baker, George R.A.; (2021) Demandingness, Integrity, and Consequentialism: How Consequentialist Theories Can Avoid the Demandingness Objection. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

One of the most prominent arguments against act consequentialism is that it generates extreme demands that agents find intuitively objectionable. This extreme demand is generated by a combination of its requirement that one must always act in whatever way would make things go best, and the fact that there are a great many people with extreme needs whom a well-off person may easily be able to help. In this thesis I argue that our intuitions regarding demandingness are not enough to motivate this problem, and that a baseline of acceptable demand is necessary in order to be able to determine whether or not act consequentialism is too demanding. Referencing Williams’ infamous integrity problem, I argue that the intuitions that agents have regarding high levels of demand are an expression of their attitudes towards their integral projects, and that a suitable baseline for demand ought to be expressed in terms of the effect an action would have on the agent’s integrity. In light of this assertion, I examine Scheffler’s use of an agent-centred prerogative to avoid the integrity problem and argue that, while agent-centred prerogatives are promising as a means to avoid the objection, Scheffler fails to adequately limit the scope of his prerogative. After a brief exploration of various possible maximising strategies, I offer an alternative solution which incorporates the importance of an agent’s integrity into a consequentialist framework. This is achieved by combining a revised maximisation strategy with an agent-centred prerogative which utilises the process of reflective equilibrium to determine a set of protected integral projects which the agent may choose to protect over making things go best impersonally. I conclude that this solution adequately resolves both the integrity objection and demandingness objection to consequentialism.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Demandingness, Integrity, and Consequentialism: How Consequentialist Theories Can Avoid the Demandingness Objection
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Consequentialism, Philosophy, Ethics, demandingness, demand, integrity, reflective agent centred consequentialism, RACC, agent-centered, agent-centred
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129644
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