Chapter 2: Ends vs. Means: Consequentialism vs. Contractarianism
2. Ends vs. means: consequentialism vs. contractarianism 2.1 CONSEQUENTIALISM AND THE MORAL FORCE OF RIGHTS Ethical theories are typically characterized as theories of the right or theories of the good (Goodin 1993, p. 241). As we have seen, contractarians do not start with a concept of the good, given independently of the right. In particular, Kantian/Rawlsian contractarians begin with a conception of the right, the moral equivalence of persons. Given this, they specify permissible ends and the constitutions which are right and just. In sharp contrast, consequentialists begin with a theory of the good and insist that that good ought to be promoted (Pettit 1993, p. 231). It is in this spirit that utilitarianism – the theory of the good which is most standardly employed to ﬁll out the consequentialist framework – insists that the right action is that which maximizes utility summed across all those affected by the action. While much can be said about this, immediate interest centers on an elementary idea: Whether expressed in hedonistic, preference or welfare form (§ 3.1), utilitarianism cannot respect the moral force of rights. To see this, consider ﬁrst that there is a taxonomy of rights: While they may be active, conveying a right to do things, they may also be passive, contemplating rights to have things done for or to one. More broadly, the differences among them subsume rights as claims, as powers, as liberties and as immunities. However, the ‘dominant meaning may well be “claim”, and in this, which is also its narrowest...
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