Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

David Cummiskey, Kantian Consequentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996. Pp. xiv + 192.1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020


Daniel M. Weinstock
Affiliation:
Université de Montréal, Montréal, PQ H3C 3J7, Canada

Abstract

Image of the first page of this article

Type
Critical Notice
Copyright
Copyright © The Authors 2000

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

Footnotes

1

Editor's Note: This critical notice was accepted for publication before Daniel Weinstock became an Editor with the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.


References

2 For a recent chapter of this philosophical conflict, see Baron, Marcia Pettit, Philip and Slote, Michael Three Methods of Ethics (Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1997)Google Scholar.

3 More cursory treatments can be found in Harrison, JonathanUtilitarianism, Universalization, Heterotomy and Necessity or Unkantian Ethics,’ in Potter, N. and Timmons, M. eds., Morality and Universality (Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1985)Google Scholar and in Hare, R.M.Could Kant Have Been a Utilitarian?’ in Dancy, R.M. ed., Kant and Critique (Dordrecht: Kluwer 1993)Google Scholar. Cummiskey's book will be referred to parenthetically in the body of the text.

4 For a clear and persuasive presentation of this interpretation, see Guyer, PaulThe Possibillity of the Categorial Imperative,’ Philosophical Review 109 (1996) 353–85Google Scholar.

5 References to Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals are to Paton, H.J. trans. (New York: Harper Torchbooks 1964)Google Scholar. They will be given parenthetically in the text, and will be referred to as Gr.

6 Hill, Thomas E. Jr., Dignity and Practical Reason in Kant's Moral Theory (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press 1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

7 For a thorough inventory of the contents of the Kantian concept of ‘humanity,’ see Hill, 39-41; see also Korsgaard, Christine Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996), 110–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 One response apparently available to Cummiskey would be to say that happiness as he conceives of it within Kant's theory of value cannot be equated to the realization of rationally-set ends, but rather should be thought of hedonistically, as characterizing agents’ psychic states, regardless of whether these states are produced by the attainment of ends. There is good evidence however to suggest that happiness so construed could not be the goal of moral action for Kant, since it ‘could have been brought about by other causes as well, and consequently [its] production did not require the will of a rational being’ (Gr, 401).

9 Note that Cummiskey's rejection of the ‘external stuff’ conception of Kantian value is in some tension with another part of his argument. In the final chapter of his book, Cummiskey argues that the unrestricted nature of Kantian consequentialism is such that it can in certain (admittedly exceptional) circumstances give rise to the obligation to sacrifice innocent rational beings, perhaps even oneself, if so doing allows one to save a greater number of rational beings. Cummiskey asks, rhetorically: ‘How can a concern for the value of rational beings lead to a refusal to sacrifice rational beings even when this would prevent other more extensive losses of rational beings?’ (146). Now an obligation to sacrifice one rational being if so doing allows one to save two only makes sense if we believe the following claim: it does not matter which specific set of individuals exist, as long as the set that does exist is as large as possible. But this claim seems neutral between (a) sacrificing an innocent rational beings so that two already existing rational beings survive, and (b) sacrificing an innocent rational being so that two new rational beings come to exist. (It would be quite easy to devise a science-fiction example in which this would be the alternative.) If this is the case, then Cummiskey's use of the ‘person-affecting’ restriction to block the unwanted implications of an ‘external stuff’ conception of value seems unattractively ad hoc.

10 O'Neill, O. Constructions of Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1989)Google Scholar

11 Baron, M. Kantian Ethics Almost Without Apology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1995)Google Scholar

12 Murphy, L.The Demands of Beneficence,’ Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (1993) 267–97Google Scholar

13 See Allison, Henry Kant's Theory of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, for the idea of ‘incorporation.’

14 Pettit, P.Consequentialism,’ in Singer, P. ed., A Companion to Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell 1991)Google Scholar

15 Weinstock, D.M.Natural Law and Public Reason in Kant's Political Philosophy,’ Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26.3 (1996) 389411CrossRefGoogle Scholar

16 For accounts of objective theories, see Parfit, D. Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1984), 499501Google Scholar; Griffin, J. Well-Being (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1986)Google Scholar, ch. III; Sumner, L.W. Welfare, Happiness and Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996), ch.3Google Scholar.

17 For which see Griffin, J.Modem Utilitarianism,’ Revue Internationale de Philosophie 7 (1977) 331–75Google Scholar.

18 For an instance of the complaint that objective theories merely provide lists without any accompanying theory, see Sumner, 45.

19 For some of the problems linked to maximization, and for some utilitarian responses to these problems, see Scarre, G. Utilitarianism (London: Routledge 1996), ch. VII.Google Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 3 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 01st January 2020 - 4th December 2020. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-b4dcdd7-jwbp8 Total loading time: 1.508 Render date: 2020-12-04T02:41:56.127Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags last update: Fri Dec 04 2020 01:59:45 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Feature Flags: { "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": false, "languageSwitch": true }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

David Cummiskey, Kantian Consequentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996. Pp. xiv + 192.1
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

David Cummiskey, Kantian Consequentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996. Pp. xiv + 192.1
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

David Cummiskey, Kantian Consequentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996. Pp. xiv + 192.1
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *