Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article

TWO DOGMAS OF DEONTOLOGY: AGGREGATION, RIGHTS, AND THE SEPARATENESS OF PERSONS

Alastair Norcrossa1

a1 Philosophy, University of Colorado at Boulder

Abstract

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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