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REASONS, VALUES, AND MORALITY
regulatory, while treating morality as one particular form of ethical outlook distinguished from others by the notion of obligation integral to it. Either way,
morality is a regulative enterprise. Deﬁning it more precisely remains an ambitious task. Nevertheless, we can usefully circumscribe our topic as follows.
First, it is often said that modern morality represents a law-conception of
ethics structured through deontic concepts like moral right, wrong, obligation and
permissibility. Many take these to be inter-deﬁnable. For instance: “A’s doing x is
morally right” = “A has a moral obligation to do x” = “A is not morally
permitted not to do x”; “A’s doing x is morally wrong” = “A has a moral obligation not to do x” = “A is not morally permitted to do x.” (These equivalences
can be contested, though in this chapter I adhere to them.) Then there are also
evaluative concepts by which we appraise people’s actions, motives, and intentions; these include good, bad, better, worse, as well as thicker modes of assessment like generous, cruel, unfair. How the deontic and evaluative connect is
controversial; but we may provisionally place them together as forming part of
the normative realm.
Second, there are many approaches to characterizing morality – in terms of a
supposed (e.g. regulative) function, a distinctive (e.g. other-regarding) content, its
formal features (e.g. universalizability), its characteristic sentiments and sanctions
(e.g. blame and guilt). Each has its limitations and, arguably, ends up referring
back to more basic notions like obligation. In combination, though, they oﬀer a
good indication of what morality involves. Let’s characterize it as a system of
thought and practice regulating relations between people via (generally otherregarding) obligations the violation of which merits blame. On a traditional view,
moral obligations are also normatively authoritative and universal. Whether
such features are essential to moral obligation remains disputed; we turn to such
Third, while morality’s focus on action places it ﬁrmly within the practical
normative sphere, it plausibly extends beyond this to involve those aspects of
belief, feeling, and character that bear on conduct – what one is justiﬁed in
believing one ought to do in light of the available evidence, what it is reasonable
to feel in response to wrongdoing, which dispositions of character one should
cultivate. The interaction of belief, feeling, and action as they ﬁgure in moral
thought is a far-reaching topic. The rest of the chapter focuses on issues more
closely connected to the authority of morality.
Moral obligation and reasons
It is often said that morality embodies a claim to “objectivity.” This can mean
many things. In the context speciﬁcally of moral obligation, a common idea is
that whether a person has a moral obligation does not generally depend on that
person’s subjective desires, aims, ends, interests, and the like – or, as we may
REASONS, VALUES, AND MORALITY
collectively call these, the person’s “motives.” More precisely, if you have a
moral obligation, you have that obligation irrespective of whether doing as it
speciﬁes either serves or conﬂicts with your motives. A further claim is that
moral obligations are objective in virtue of being normatively authoritative. This
too can mean many things, though a common thought is that morality represents
an authoritative standpoint because we necessarily have reason to do as it
demands. One way to explicate this generic idea is in terms of the conjunction of
the following two claims: ﬁrst, that moral obligations entail normative reasons to
act, in that someone who has a moral obligation has a reason to do what it
demands; second, that the person has this reason irrespective of whether doing
as the obligation demands either serves or conﬂicts with the person’s motives.
For example, if you have a moral obligation to refrain from murder, you have a
reason to so refrain irrespective of whether committing the murder serves or
conﬂicts with your own subjective aims or interests. This section examines the
normative authority thesis.
To clarify what it involves, let’s begin by considering, and contrasting it to, the
(1) A has a moral obligation to do x ! A has that obligation whether or
not doing x serves A’s motives.
This is distinct from the idea that moral obligations are normatively authoritative, since it makes no claim about the connection between moral obligation
and reasons. By itself, (1) therefore leaves open whether someone who has a
moral obligation to do x thereby has a reason to do x. Whether a person does
have a reason to do what he has a moral obligation to do depends in part on
how we understand the expression “has a moral obligation,” for instance, as it
ﬁgures in the antecedent of (1). (1) could be read as saying “According to morality,
if A has an obligation to do x, A has that obligation whether or not doing x serves
A’s motives.” However, that could be true even if A has no genuine reason to do
x. For it doesn’t follow from the fact that some system of norms claims you have
an obligation to do something that you have a reason to do it. Philippa Foot
(1978) makes this point by considering duties derived from norms of etiquette. It
might be true, according to etiquette, that women are forbidden from oﬀering their
hand when greeting men unless the man ﬁrst oﬀers his. But if such duties and
prohibitions are themselves frivolous nonsense, there may be no reason to comply
with them. Similarly, it may be true according to the laws of a fascist state that
you are legally required to engage in racist activity; but it doesn’t follow from
this that you actually have reason to do so. Whether you do have a genuine
reason to do what etiquette or the law requires depends on whether the demands
they make are demands there is reason to obey in the ﬁrst place. If they do not
provide us with reasons, we might say that the standpoints they represent lack
genuine normative authority. Importantly, many who endorse (1) think morality
possesses a special kind of authority lacking in other putative requirements – and
that this consists in there being an essential connection between moral obligations
and what we genuinely ought and have reason to do. Before examining these connections, it will be useful to ﬁrst introduce the concepts ought and a reason.
Oughts are typically taken to specify requirements or demands; they are
overriding and present conclusive normative verdicts. Thus if you ought to perform some particular action, there is no other action you ought to perform
instead. Reasons, in contrast, need not specify requirements: you could have a
reason to do something without being required to do it. A reason to perform some
action is usually understood as a consideration that counts in favor of doing it
(Scanlon 1998: Ch. 1; Dancy 2004: Ch. 2); but a reason can be just one consideration
amongst others, with there being many diﬀerent reasons favoring many diﬀerent
actions, not all of which you ought to perform. Nonetheless, many think there is
an intimate connection between oughts and reasons, so that:
(2) If A ought to do x ! A has a reason to do x,
even though the converse may fail.
If moral obligation has some essential connection with oughts and reasons, we
might then say that:
(3) A has a moral obligation to do x ! A ought to do x,
(4) A has a moral obligation to do x ! A has a reason to do x.
(3) is stronger than (4). It captures a traditional thought that moral obligations are
overriding: your having a moral obligation implies not just that you have some
reason to do what it demands, but that you ought to do it (this is often labeled
the “moral ought” or “ought of moral obligation”). (4) follows from the conjunction of (2) and (3). Many endorse both (3) and (4), though one could accept
(4) but reject (3), and hence deny that moral obligations are always overriding.
Or one could accept (3) but deny (4), for instance, by denying (2). Alternatively,
one could deny both (3) and (4). Here we shall focus on (4) and its denial.
(4) represents a view sometimes called morality–reasons internalism (because the
connection between moral obligation and reasons it posits is often presented as
an internal or conceptual one, whereby it is part of the very nature or concept of
moral obligation that it entails reasons to act). Its denial, morality–reasons externalism, denies this conceptual connection and holds that A could have a moral
obligation to do x but no reason to do x. Both positions oﬀer contrasting views
about the nature or concept of morality and its demands – whether, in particular, moral obligations are reason-entailing. There are a number of ways to
REASONS, VALUES, AND MORALITY
understand the connection (4) articulates. On the one hand, it could be read as
saying either that the moral obligation to do x provides A with a reason to do x,
or that the reason favoring x provides A with the obligation. On the other hand,
(4) could be understood as the claim that facts about moral obligation determine
facts about reasons, so that by establishing that A has a moral obligation to do x
we have therein established that A has a reason to do x; or it could be interpreted as a constraint on who has what obligations, so that if A has no reason to
do x then A has no moral obligation to do it. Since (4) can be interpreted in any
of these ways, to deny (4) is to deny each of these interpretations. Those who do
deny (4) deny that it is part of the concept of moral obligation that it entails
reasons. They hold that it is therefore possible that you have no reason to do
what you are morally required to do. This need not be to deny that you have
moral obligations, nor therefore that you act morally wrongly by violating them.
Nor even is it to deny that you can have good reason, indeed moral reason, to
do as morality requires. Denying (4) involves denying only that there is a necessary connection between moral obligation and reasons; the connection is instead
contingent. Many who deny (4) do so because they think that whether people
have reason to do as morality demands depends on their having suitably moral
sentiments and motives; to the extent most of us do, most of us may have reason
to do what we are morally required to do. Nonetheless, this is not guaranteed.
To assess the signiﬁcance of (4) and its denial, it will be useful to introduce one
further distinction, this time concerning reasons themselves.
On one view, often called reasons internalism, for it to be true that you have a
reason to perform some action, acting for that reason must somehow serve your
subjective motives. On this view: A has a reason to do x only if A has some
motive that would be served by doing x (Williams 1981b). Thus, you have a
reason to go mountain climbing only if you have some desire, aim, end, or
interest that would be served by doing so; if you have no such motive, you have
no reason to mountain climb. Similarly, you have a reason to refrain from
murder only if you have some motive which would be served by so refraining; if
you have no such motive, you have no such reason. (Note that a person’s
motives can include moral motives, for instance, a desire to do the morally right
thing because it is morally right; so reasons internalism does not entail egoism.)
Reasons externalists, in contrast, hold that at least some reasons do not depend
on agential motives, so that you could have a reason to refrain from murder
irrespective of whether committing the murder would serve or conﬂict with your
motives. Hence, according to reasons externalism:
(5) For some reasons R, whether A has R does not depend on A’s motives.
If we combine (4) with the claim that the reasons entailed by moral obligation
satisfy (5), we arrive at the thesis that moral obligation is normatively authoritative. Thus the normative authority of moral obligation involves the following
conjunction of claims: that moral obligations do entail reasons to act (as in ),
and that the reasons entailed by moral obligation are reasons the person has
irrespective of his motives (an application of ). It follows that moral obligation
is universal to the extent that one does not escape having a reason to do what
one is morally obligated to do merely if or because one lacks suitably moral
motives. Furthermore, if we combine (4) with the claim that, whenever a person
has a moral obligation the reasons satisfying (5) generate an ought, we get one
version of the traditional claim that moral obligations present categorical (and
overriding) requirements: if you have a moral obligation to do x, you ought to
do x irrespective of whether doing x serves your motives. The claim that moral
obligation is normatively authoritative can be endorsed by a wide variety of
positions within normative ethics: Kantians and intuitionists do generally accept
it, but it is also open to utilitarians and others. However, one could reject it in a
number of diﬀerent ways; here are some:
(a) Some deny morality’s commitment to both (4) and (5). This is in fact a
common approach amongst many contemporary naturalist moral realists
(e.g. Railton 1986). Such realists hold that moral facts (including facts about
moral right and wrong) are identical to or constituted by natural facts. They
therefore accept that moral facts are objective in one sense, since the natural facts they are related to are. Nonetheless, these realists deny that
moral obligation has to be objective in the further sense that it is normatively authoritative. Often they deny that moral obligations entail reasons
because they think that whether a person has reason to do as morality
demands depends on whether the person has suitably moral motives (i.e.
they often deny  because they deny ).
(b) One could instead accept morality’s commitment to (4) but deny its commitment to (5). If one also accepts a reasons internalist view, this provides a
constraint on the scope of moral obligation: you only have a moral obligation and thus a reason to do what it demands, if you have some motive
that would be served by doing so (see Williams 1995).
(c) Alternatively, some hold that it is part of our concept of morality that
morality is committed to both (4) and (5), but deny on substantive grounds
that any reasons satisfy (5). This signals an error theory about morality, or
at least those conceptions of it according to which moral obligation is
normatively authoritative (e.g. Mackie 1977; arguably Williams 1985). In
other words, error theorists might hold that, if there were any moral obligations, these would entail reasons to act irrespective of one’s motives; but
they deny that there are any such reasons – and they therefore deny that
there are any moral obligations thus construed.
(d) Or one could accept (5) (whether accepting  or not) but deny that the
reasons satisfying (5) are moral reasons. This is one way to be a non-moral
perfectionist, i.e. someone who thinks people might have reason to pursue
REASONS, VALUES, AND MORALITY
human excellences irrespective of their motives, but who holds that human
excellence is distinctively non-moral.
Since the crux of disagreement between those who do and do not think that moral
obligation is normatively authoritative lies in whether they think moral reasons
satisfy (5), it will be useful to consider the signiﬁcance of (5) and its denial.
At one level, the debate between proponents and opponents of (5) is a substantive one, concerning the conditions under which people have reasons and
hence who has what reasons. For instance, denying (5) eﬀectively concedes that
the suﬃciently ruthless and amoral may have no reason to act morally well;
moreover, they may even have reason to act in ways most would think decidedly
immoral. Many who deny (5), however, argue that, even if reasons are contingent
on agential motives, most of us do have suitably moral motives and so do fall
within the scope of moral obligation; in which case, the denial of (5) does not in
fact generate implications as morally objectionable as some claim. Moreover, if
there really are people who lack any moral dispositions whatsoever, merely
attributing reasons to them will have little practical beneﬁt anyway: it is unlikely
to aﬀect their behavior, and they may just be people we have good reason to
avoid or protect ourselves against.
At a further level, though, the debate goes to the heart of issues about the
nature, justiﬁcation and foundations of morality. Those who think morality is
normatively authoritative often argue that severing the connection between
moral obligation and reasons leaves us (at best) with an impoverished conception
of moral objectivity (for instance, by reducing moral facts to natural facts arguably lacking any genuine normative signiﬁcance), or (at worst) fails to account for
morality as an essentially normative enterprise (making morality little more than
a system of norms on par with etiquette). Skeptics about (5), on the other hand,
think the view of reasons underpinning the aspiration to normative authority
untenable, often because they think it metaphysically mysterious (Mackie 1977:
Ch. 1) or because they ﬁnd arguments for it systematically unconvincing (Foot
1978; Williams 1995). Many seek thereby to defend an alternative approach to
ethics. Some do so by preserving a conception of moral obligation not committed to the supposedly problematic picture of reasons the normative authority
thesis presupposes – this is the approach of those who combine naturalist moral
realism with reasons internalism. Others jettison moral obligation itself – this is
the approach of some virtue ethicists. These debates about reasons therefore
have wide-reaching implications. They remain live issues.
Values and morality
We have so far concentrated on connections between morality and reasons.
Another central element to morality, on many views, concerns value. In recent
moral philosophy debate about value has been extensive and diverse. Here I shall
broach three topics.
The ﬁrst concerns the relation between value and moral obligation. Normative
moral theories are often divided into two opposing camps: deontological and teleological. One inﬂuential account of this distinction comes from John Rawls
(1972: 24–30). Taking the good and the right as our two main moral categories,
Rawls characterizes teleological moral theories as those that ﬁrst specify the good
independently of the right and then deﬁne moral rightness as that which maximizes the good. Consequentialist theories are a paradigmatic example of a teleological approach: they hold that certain states of aﬀairs are valuable and that the
rightness of an action (say) is determined solely by the value of the states of
aﬀairs it brings about as its consequences. Classical utilitarianism, for instance,
conceives the good as pleasure and the absence of pain, specifying morally right
actions as those producing most overall good given the available alternatives.
Strictly speaking (contra Rawls), it is now widely agreed that teleological theories
are not committed to a maximizing view. For example, satisﬁcing utilitarians hold
that you have a moral obligation only to bring about good enough outcomes,
where this may be less than the best possible; nonetheless, moral rightness is still
a function of goodness. Deontological moral theories, in contrast, do not deﬁne
moral rightness in terms of, or do not think it determined by, an independently
speciﬁed conception of the good. Diﬀerent deontologists disagree whether the
consequences of an action can be relevant to determining its status as right,
wrong, or permissible; but all deontologists think there are factors besides the
value of an action’s consequences that are relevant to determining this. In particular, they think there are moral constraints on how we are permitted to pursue
the good, where such constraints operate independently of the value of outcomes. To take one example: Many forms of consequentialism are arguably
committed to the view that it could be required, or at least permissible, to frame
an innocent person for a crime if doing so would bring about best overall consequences – if, say, it would prevent signiﬁcant social disorder. Deontologists,
however, would typically think this morally wrong, for instance, because it is
unjust or fails to respect the dignity of the innocent person as a free moral agent.
Thus even if framing the individual would bring about best overall consequences, the fact that this is unjust (say) may serve as a constraint that prohibits using the person as a means to that end. Teleological and deontological
approaches thus represent two rival conceptions of morality distinguishable by
the role they assign to value. Both remain leading players in contemporary normative ethics.
A second issue concerns the relation between values and reasons, moral, or
otherwise. Many teleologists and deontologists think there is indeed an intimate
connection between them; but there remains signiﬁcant disagreement over how
they are related, in particular whether one is more fundamental than the other.
Value-based views hold that we have reason to do things because they are good;
REASONS, VALUES, AND MORALITY
reasons-based approaches deny this. One prominent reasons-based approach
emerges from what T. M. Scanlon (1998: 95–100) calls the “buck-passing”
account of (intrinsic) value. This clusters around a number of ideas. First, we
construct some biconditional linking values with reasons, a basic version of
which might claim that “x is intrinsically good if and only if there is reason to y,”
where “y” stands for some response to x – an action or pro-attitude, say – there
is reason to do or have. Second, buck-passers hold that it is not the quality of
being good which gives reason to y, but certain other (non-evaluative) features of
x. Third, they claim that to say that x is good just is to say that there is reason to
y with respect to x. Thus, for example, to say that mountain climbing is an
intrinsically valuable activity is to say that it has certain features (provides
opportunity to view stunning landscapes, to experience wilderness and tranquility, to overcome challenges, or so forth) which give people reasons – perhaps
reasons to do it or reasons to admire its leading exponents. If defensible, this
provides a way by which to analyze value in terms of the more basic notion of a
reason and to deny that value is the source of reasons. Combining it with (4) also
oﬀers a way to unify the deontic and evaluative domains, since it allows that
both deontic and evaluative concepts entail the concept of a reason. Each of the
three theses comprising the buck-passing account may be contested, though.
Some deny the biconditional. On the one hand, it inherits many similar permutations to those that arose regarding the connection between moral obligation
and reasons. Reasons internalists, for instance, could endorse a substantive
account of value according to which the value of an action does not depend
on agential motives, yet also hold that you have reason to do or to have a proattitude towards what is good only if you have some motive that would be
served by doing so. On the other hand, some deny the biconditional in the other
direction, because they claim there can be reason to do or pro something that is
not intrinsically valuable. Suppose that I promise to pay you a vast sum of
money for admiring a dreadful musical composition lacking any aesthetic merit;
you may, so the objection goes, have good reason to form the attitude of
admiration even though the musical composition is not intrinsically valuable.
Alternatively, one could accept the biconditional but maintain that we have reasons to do or pro things because they are valuable; value-based approaches do
just this and typically hold that it is the quality of being valuable which provides
us with these reasons. Thus it may be the fact that mountain climbing is an
intrinsically good or worthwhile activity that gives us reason to do it, or to
admire those who do. There are, nevertheless, further responses one may make
to these objections; both the reasons-based and value-based approaches continue
to command adherents.
A third central topic concerns the role of non-moral value in moral theory.
Granting that there are a variety of non-moral values we have reason to pursue,
there emerges the possibility of conﬂict between the moral and non-moral.
A pressing issue for moral theories is whether they can (and to what extent
they should) accommodate individuals’ pursuits of non-moral goods. The distinction between moral and non-moral values is not always clear-cut; but the latter are
typically taken to include the sorts of relationships and personal projects that
give our lives meaning and can contribute to our living a good or ﬂourishing
life – friendships and emotional attachments, artistic and sporting pursuits, projects embodying personal excellence, and so on. A generic concern is that morality might require us to sacriﬁce such goods and that this is a bad thing
(Williams 1981a, 1985: Ch.10; Wolf 1982). One source of this worry emerges
from the idea that the demands of morality represent an impartial standpoint
which has priority over the partial and subjective interests of individual agents.
For instance, classical utilitarianism may require each person to promote the
good of all impartially, since the good of one person is as valuable as the good of
any other; yet this may in turn require an individual to forgo the sorts of personal project constitutive of his own good if promoting the good of others will
have better overall consequences. Kantian theories may also be susceptible to a
version of this objection. For if they require a person to deliberate impartially by
abstracting from contingent facts about himself (including his subjective aims,
goals, interests, and other motives) when considering what to do, the person’s
subjective goals may become sidelined and thus eclipsed by the demands of
morality. On either theory, if moral obligation is both pervasive and overriding,
we may end up continually required to do as morality demands and hence not
permitted to pursue our own personal good. Many responses have been oﬀered
on behalf of the moral outlooks so accused. Some concede that morality is
indeed intrusive and demanding in these respects – but argue that, given that we
are indeed able to help those less fortunate than ourselves, we ought to do so
even if that requires signiﬁcant personal sacriﬁce. Others seek to make morality
less demanding, either by accommodating the legitimate pursuit of personal
goods within an impartial framework, or by preserving space outside of morality
within which to pursue non-moral goods. Thus we might treat moral considerations as presenting just one kind of reason alongside whatever non-moral
reasons we have, both of which may be relevant to determining what overall we
ought to do. If moral considerations are not always decisive in determining what
we ought to do, they needn’t generate an unremitting series of obligations. In
which case, even if moral obligations are overriding, they need not be pervasive;
thus they needn’t preclude the legitimate pursuit of non-moral goods.
Much more can be said both about these responses and the other themes the
chapter has introduced. By way of conclusion, it should be noted that the
objection just raised against obligation-centered moral theories has motivated
not only a variety of responses on behalf of morality but also an array of contrasting (notably virtue and feminist) approaches to ethics – approaches that
either do away with, or give less emphasis to, the notions of impartiality and
obligation that they see as part of the problem. Insofar as the notion of obligation is integral to “morality,” these may not be instances of morality in the
REASONS, VALUES, AND MORALITY
narrow sense but, rather, alternative ethical perspectives. Both styles of approach
are explored in the other chapters of Part IV of this volume.
See also Reasons for action (Chapter 24); Realism and its alternatives (Chapter
26); Error theory and ﬁctionalism (Chapter 28); Consequentialism (Chapter 37);
Contemporary Kantian ethics (Chapter 38); Virtue ethics (Chapter 40); Feminist
ethics (Chapter 43); Morality and its critics (Chapter 45); Partiality and impartiality (Chapter 52).
Dancy, J. (2004) Ethics without Principles, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Foot, P. (1978) “Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives,” repr. in Virtues and Vices,
Mackie, J. (1977) Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Railton, P. (1986) “Moral Realism,” Philosophical Review 95: 163–207.
Rawls, J. (1972) A Theory of Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Scanlon, T. M. (1998) What We Owe to Each Other, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of
Harvard University Press.
Williams, B. (1981a) “Persons, Character and Morality,” repr. in Moral Luck, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
——(1981b) “Internal and External Reasons,” repr. in Moral Luck, Cambridge: Cambridge
——(1985) Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, London: Fontana Press.
——(1995) “Internal Reasons and the Obscurity of Blame,” repr. in Making Sense of Humanity,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wolf, S. (1982) “Moral Saints,” Journal of Philosophy 79: 419–39.
Cullity, G. and Gaut, B. (eds) (1997) Ethics and Practical Reason, Oxford: Oxford University
Press. (A collection of essays on diﬀerent approaches to practical reason and its connections
with ethics, with useful editors’ introduction.)
Darwall, S. (1997) “Reasons, Motives, and the Demands of Morality: An Introduction,” in
S. Darwall, A. Gibbard and P. Railton (eds) Moral Discourse and Practice, Oxford: Oxford
University Press. (Outlines further issues in debates about morality’s normative authority.)
The deﬁnition of consequentialism
A consequentialist theory evaluates things exclusively in terms of consequences.
For example, beliefs could be evaluated in terms of the consequences of holding
them (an approach often called pragmatism). The most common forms of consequentialism, however, focus on the evaluation of acts and sets of rules. And
the rest of this chapter will stick to that focus.
The most familiar kind of consequentialism is the kind of utilitarianism
maintaining that an act is morally right if and only if no alternative act has consequences containing greater welfare (or net beneﬁt), impartially assessed. In utilitarians’ impartial assessment of welfare, a beneﬁt (i.e. addition to someone’s
welfare) or harm (loss to welfare) to any one individual gets the same weight as
the same size beneﬁt or harm to anyone else. Thus, beneﬁts and harms to
everyone count equally, no matter what his or her ethnic group, religion, wealth,
education, political views, talent, or conscientiousness; all that matters is the size
of the beneﬁts and harms.
This kind of utilitarianism is maximizing in the sense that it calls for an act with
unsurpassed consequences (anything less than the best isn’t good enough,
according to act-utilitarianism). And this theory is direct in the sense that the acts
are assessed solely and directly by their own consequences (not, for example, by
whether the acts are allowed by the rules with the best consequences). Thus the
theory is known as maximizing act-utilitarianism.
While maximizing act-utilitarianism is the most familiar form of consequentialism, deﬁning consequentialism so that this is the only form is a naive
mistake. Many self-described consequentialists explicitly reject maximizing actutilitarianism. Some consequentialists think welfare is not all that matters. Some
reject utilitarian impartiality. Some reject a requirement to maximize. And some
deny that acts are to be solely assessed directly by their consequences.
Given the disputes among consequentialists, consequentialism must not be
characterized in such a way as to imply that all forms of it are welfarist, impartial
in the way speciﬁed, maximizing, and direct. How should it be characterized?
What all consequentialists about the morality of acts agree on is that, where