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Volume 48 • Number 4

October 2011



The Argument from Self-Creation : A Refutation of Act-Consequ entialism and a Defense of Moral Options

by Alex Rajczi

The standard form of act-consequentialism requires us to perform the action with the best consequences; it allows choice only on those rare occasions when several actions produce equally good results. This characteristic conflicts with our ordinary conception of morality. We ordinarily assume we may choose from a range of moral options even though some do not bring about the best possible results. In this battle between act-consequentialism and ordinary morality, act-consequentialism seems to have the upper hand. Options are puzzling—why would morality allow us to make the world a worse place than we could? A major challenge in contemporary ethical theory is to justify options. This essay offers a new argument for moral options and against act-consequentialism. The argument turns on the insight that some valuable things cannot exist unless there are genuine moral options. Specifically, only with options can people engage in the fundamental good of creating decision-procedures for choosing among different life-paths.

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American Philosophical Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-1123