The demands of consequentialism
The thesis is an examination of the familiar objection that Consequentialism is unreasonably demanding (hereafter the Demandingness Objection). The focus is on attempts to construct a moral theory which avoids making unreasonable demands, without departing too much from traditional Consequentialism. The thesis is in two parts. In Part ONE, a wide range of contemporary forms of Consequentialism are examined, particularly the theories of Parfit, Brandt, Hooker, Murphy, Slote and Scheffler. It is argued that none of these is able to provide an adequate response to the Demandingness Objection. In Part TWO, a new Consequentialist theory is sketched. The core of this theory is a theoretical innovation: nonproportional accounts of the relationships between the values of outcomes, the costs faced by agents, and the lightness or wrongness of actions. It is argued that such accounts can provide the basis for a response to the Demandingness Objection. It is also argued that nonproportional elements can be incorporated into the theories of Scheffler and Parfit, and that the resulting theories are superior to the originals. It is concluded that the notion of nonproportionality is worthy of further exploration, and that the best possible Consequentialist moral theory is very likely to incorporate some non-proportional elements. It is also concluded that it would be premature to assume that Consequentialists will never be able to put together an adequate response to the Demandingness Objection.