Tag Archives: deontology

Tyler Cowen

[W]hen people say, “Oh, I’m a deontologist. Kant is my lodestar in ethics,” I don’t know how they ever make decisions at the margin based on that. It seems to me quite incoherent that deontology just says there’s a bunch of things you can’t do or maybe some things you’re obliged to do. But when it’s about more or less — “Well, how much money should we spend on the police force?” Try to get a Kantian to have a coherent framework for answering that question, other than saying, “Crime is wrong,” or “You’re obliged to come to the help of victims of crime.” It can’t be done.

Tyler Cowen, ‘Rob Wiblin interviews Tyler on Stubborn Attachments‘, October 16, 2018

Dan Moller

One need not be a consequentialist to find something odd in a Kantian’s proposal to donate $100 to a famine relief organization she happens to know is especially inefficient when there is a more efficient organization that will save more people standing by.

Dan Moller, ‘Should We Let People Starve: For Now?’, Analysis, Vol. 66, No. 3 (July, 2006), pp. 244

Samuel Scheffler

[C]ommon-sense deontological morality, standing between egoism and consequentialism, sometimes seems to be caught in a kind of normative squeeze, with its rationality challenged in parallel ways by (as it were) the maximizers of the right and of the left: those who think that one ought always to pursue one’s good, and those who are convinced that one should promote the good of all.

Samuel Scheffler, ‘Agent-Centred Restrictions, Rationality, and the Virtues’, Mind, vol. 94, no. 375 (July, 1985), p. 415

Peter Railton

I doubt […] that any fundamental ethical dispute between consequentialists and deontologists can be resolved by appeal to the idea of respect for persons. The deontologist has his notion of respect—e.g., that we not use people in certain ways—and the consequentialist has his—e.g., that the good of every person has an equal claim upon us, a claim unmediated by any notion of right or contract, so that we should do the most possible to bring about outcomes that actually advance the good of persons. For every consequentially justified act of manipulation to which the deontologist can point with alarm there is a deontologically justified act that fails to promote the well-being of some person(s) as fully as possible to which the consequentialist can point, appalled.

Peter Railton, ‘Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 13, no. 2. (Spring, 1984), p. 163, n. 32

Peter Railton

“Let the rules with greatest acceptance utility be followed, though the heavens fall!” is no more plausible than “Fiat justitia, ruat coelum!”—and a good bit less ringing.

Peter Railton, ‘Alientation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 13, no. 2 (Spring, 1984)

Liam Murphy

Deontology is individualistic: we are not in it together, but each on our own. To say that the compliance effects of a constraint against killing should be fairly distributed among all agents would be like saying that the children of two families that have no contact with each other should all be treated fairly by the four parents.

Liam Murphy, Moral Demands in Nonideal Theory, Oxford, 2000, p. 94