Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 39–47 | Cite as

Rightness, Parsimony, and Consequentialism: A Response to Peterson

  • Roger CrispEmail author


This paper argues against Martin Peterson in favour of the ‘standard view’ of rightness, according to which rightness does not come in degrees. It begins (section 1) with a defence of the standard view against the charge that it is committed to ‘deontic leaps’. It goes on (section 2) to claim that greater conceptual parsimony would allow Peterson to avoid certain problems involving equality and related matters that arise out of his conception of moral value, and that Peterson should take the same instrumentalist attitude towards the norms of practical rationality as he does towards the norms of common-sense morality. The paper closes (section 3) with some doubts about Peterson’s programme of consequentialization and its alleged advantages.


Peterson, Martin Consequentialism Rightness Deontology Rationality 



For comments on and/or discussion of earlier drafts, I am grateful to participants in a workshop on Peterson’s book, organized by Vuko Andrić and Attila Tanyi at the University of Konstanz, November 2013, as well as to Attila Tanyi, Martin van Hees, and an anonymous reader for this journal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St Anne’s CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Uehiro Centre for Practical EthicsOxfordUK

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