CAN THERE BE A KANTIAN CONSEQUENTIALISM?

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Abstract

In On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that we need to make a significant reassessment of the relationship between some central positions in moral philosophy, because, contrary to received opinion, Kantians, contractualists and consequentialists are all ‘climbing the same mountain on different sides’. In Parfit's view Kant's own attempt to outline an account of moral obligation fails, but when it is modified in ways entirely congenial to his thinking, a defensible Kantian contractualism can be produced, which survives the objections which are fatal for Kant's own theory. This form of contractualism would then lead rational agents to choose consequentialist moral principles. I argue that Parfit significantly misrepresents Kant's project in moral philosophy, and that no genuinely Kantian moral theory could issue in a form of consequentialism.

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