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  • Alastair Norcross (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 24 November 2008

One of the currently popular dogmata of anti-consequentialism is that consequentialism doesn't respect, recognize, or in some important way account for what is referred to as the “separateness of persons.” The charge is often made, but rarely explained in any detail, much less argued for. In this paper I explain what I take to be the most plausible interpretation of the separateness of persons charge. I argue that the charge itself can be deconstructed into at least two further objections to consequentialist theories. These objections amount to (i) the rejection of axiological aggregation, and (ii) the rejection of deontic aggregation. Of these two objections, I argue that the first one, though often made, is untenable. I also argue that the second objection, in its various forms, relies on distinctions whose moral significance is vigorously denied by almost all consequentialist theorists. I thus argue that the separateness of persons objection poses no special threat to consequentialism.

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Judith Jarvis Thomson , “The Right and the Good,” The Journal of Philosophy 94, no. 6 (1997): 273–98

Alastair Norcross , “Contractualism and Aggregation,” Social Theory and Practice 28, no. 2 (2002): 303–14

Larry Temkin , “A Continuum Argument for Intransitivity,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (1996): 175210

Warren Quinn , “The Puzzle of the Self-Torturer,” Philosophical Studies 59 (1990): 7990

Stuart Rachels , “Counterexamples to the Transitivity of ‘Better Than’,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76, no. 1 (1998): 7183

Alastair Norcross , “Intransitivity and the Person-Affecting Principle,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59, no. 3 (1999): 769–76

Alastair Norcross , “Comparing Harms: Headaches and Human Lives,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 26 (1997): 135–67

Erik Carlson , “Aggregating Harms—Should We Kill to Avoid Headaches?Theoria 66, no. 3 (2000): 246–55

Alastair Norcross , “Should Utilitarianism Accommodate Moral Dilemmas?Philosophical Studies 79, no. 1 [1995]: 5983)

Frances Kamm , Intricate Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Alastair Norcross , “Off Her Trolley? Frances Kamm and the Metaphysics of Morality,” Utilitas 20, no. 1 (2008): 6580

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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