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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 12, pp 3131–3144 | Cite as

Scalar consequentialism the right way

  • Neil SinhababuEmail author
Article

Abstract

Rightness and wrongness come in degrees that vary on a continuous scale. Examples in which agents have many options that morally differ from each other demonstrate this. I suggest ways to develop scalar consequentialism, which treats the rightness and wrongness of actions as matters of degree, and explains them in terms of the value of the actions’ consequences. Scalar consequentialism has a variety of linguistic resources for understanding unsuffixed “right.” It also has advantages over some deontological theories in accounting for rightness.

Keywords

Consequentialism Utilitarianism Supererogation Degrees Demandingness Rightness 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I thank Robbie Williams and Mitchell Yoshitaka Erlewine for help with the semantics of gradable adjectives, Tomislav Janović and Matej Susnik for teaching me about Croatian grammar, Derek Baker for raising the issue of binary guidance, Peter Murphy for suggesting the notion of continuous right-making parameters, John Tilley for help with Hume, Samuel Kahn for help with Kant, and Daniel Muñoz for help with twentieth century British ethics scholarship. I also thank audiences at the University of Waikato, Massey University, Colorado State University, the University of Akron, Cleveland State University, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the University of Surrey, and the University of Oslo for helpful feedback.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNational University of Singapore (NUS)SingaporeSingapore

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