, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

Damned If You Do; Damned If You Don’t!

  • Frances Howard-Snyder


This paper discusses the Principle of Normative Invariance: ‘An action’s moral status does not depend on whether or not it is performed.’ I show the importance of this principle for arguments regarding actualism and other variations on the person-affecting restriction, discuss and rebut arguments in favor of the principle, and then discuss five counterexamples to it. I conclude that the principle as it stands is false; and that if it is modified to avoid the counterexamples, it is gutted of any interest or power.


Moral responsibility Future people Ought Principle of Normative Invariance Actualism 



Thanks to Ryan Wasserman, Ty Barnes, Ned Markosian, two anonymous referees for Philosophia, and especially, Hud Hudson for all the help. I am also grateful to Western Washington University for providing me with professional leave which enabled me to complete this project.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyWestern Washington UniversityBellinghamUSA

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