, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 71-89

First online:

Deliberation, Foreknowledge, and Morality as a Guide to Action

  • Erik CarlsonAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Uppsala University

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In Section 1, I rehearse some arguments for the claim that morality should be ``action-guiding', and try to state the conditions under which a moral theory is in fact action-guiding. I conclude that only agents who are cognitively and conatively ``ideal' are in general able to use a moral theory as a guide to action. In Sections 2 and 3, I discuss whether moral ``actualism' implies that morality cannot be action-guiding even for ideal agents. If actualism is true, an ideal agent will know about her own future actions. Since such foreknowledge is often thought to be incompatible with deliberation, and since action-guidance presupposes the possibility of deliberation, there is an apparent difficulty in combining actualism with the requirement of action-guidance. In opposition to an argument by Jan Österberg, I try to show that actualism and action-guidance are in fact compatible.