Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons (1984) mounted a striking defense of Act Consequentialism against a Rawls-inspired Kantian orthodoxy in moral philosophy. On What Matters (2011) is notable for its serious engagement with Kant's ethics and for its arguments in support of the “Triple Theory,” which allies Rule Consequentialism with Kantian and Scanlonian Contractualism against Act Consequentialism as a theory of moral right. This critical notice argues that what underlies this change is a view of the deontic concept of moral rightness that ties it closely to blameworthiness and accountability in a way that effectively concedes a Rawlsian publicity condition. It is also argued that Parfit's arguments that Kantian and Scanlonian Contractualism entail Rule Consequentialism can be resisted. Two elements of Parfit's metaethics are critically discussed. First, concerning Parfit's arguments against subjectivist theories of practical reason, it is argued that a form of subjectivist theory exists that is not only consistent with Parfit's claim that all reasons for acting are object rather than state given, but that can support that claim. Second, it is argued that Parfit's arguments against identifying normative with natural statements and facts do not transfer seamlessly to identifying normative with natural properties.
Research Article| January 01 2014
Agreement Matters: Critical Notice of Derek Parfit, On What MattersCritical Notice of Parfit, On What MattersStephen Darwall
The Philosophical Review (2014) 123 (1): 79–105.
Stephen Darwall; Agreement Matters: Critical Notice of Derek Parfit, On What Matters
Critical Notice of Parfit, On What Matters
Stephen Darwall. The Philosophical Review 1 January 2014; 123 (1): 79–105. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-2366495
Download citation file: