Moral Obligation, Self-Interest and The Transitivity Problem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Is the relation ‘is a morally permissible alternative to’ transitive? The answer seems to be a straightforward yes. If Act B is a morally permissible alternative to Act A and Act C is a morally permissible alternative to B then how could C fail to be a morally permissible alternative to A? However, as both Dale Dorsey and Frances Kamm point out, there are cases where this transitivity appears problematic. My aim in this paper is to provide a solution to this problem. I will then investigate Kamm’s justification for rejecting the transitivity of the ‘is a permissible alternative to’ relation. Next, I will look at Dorsey’s solution, which involves a reinterpretation of the intuitions used to generate the problem. I will argue that neither of these solutions are fully satisfying before going on to provide my own solution to the problem and arguing that it avoids these problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-464
Number of pages23
JournalUtilitas
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

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obligation
act
intuition
Transitivity
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Keywords

  • moral obligation
  • supererogation
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Morality
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy
  • consequentialism

Cite this

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abstract = "Is the relation ‘is a morally permissible alternative to’ transitive? The answer seems to be a straightforward yes. If Act B is a morally permissible alternative to Act A and Act C is a morally permissible alternative to B then how could C fail to be a morally permissible alternative to A? However, as both Dale Dorsey and Frances Kamm point out, there are cases where this transitivity appears problematic. My aim in this paper is to provide a solution to this problem. I will then investigate Kamm’s justification for rejecting the transitivity of the ‘is a permissible alternative to’ relation. Next, I will look at Dorsey’s solution, which involves a reinterpretation of the intuitions used to generate the problem. I will argue that neither of these solutions are fully satisfying before going on to provide my own solution to the problem and arguing that it avoids these problems.",
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Moral Obligation, Self-Interest and The Transitivity Problem. / Archer, Alfred.

In: Utilitas, Vol. 28, No. 4, 01.12.2016, p. 441-464.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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