Research Article

A Consequentialist Distinction between What We Ought to Do and Ought to Try


a1 Gothenburg University Ingmar.Persson@phil.gu.se


G. E. Moore raised the question of whether consequentialists ought to maximize actual rather than expected value, and came down in favour of the former alternative. But rather recently Frank Jackson has presented an example which has been widely thought to clinch the case in favour of the alternative view. This article argues for a sort of compromise between these rival views, namely that while we ought to do what maximizes actual value, we ought to try to do what maximizes expected value. It is claimed that consequentialists could consistently adopt this view, though in Jackson's case they are certain that, if they try to maximize expected value, they shall most likely not maximize actual value.