X hits on this document





37 / 41

greater good (and, of course, partially constitutive of this greater good), it does not deny entirely that people do have duties towards this end. For in addition to arguing that persons are inviolable and ends-in-themselves, we have also stipulated (in the third aspect of our bargainers’ conception of the moral status of a person) that persons are worthy of concern. And to say that persons are worthy of concern is precisely to say that they are the sorts of beings capable of generating a valid pro tanto reason to promote their good (whether individually, in acts of charity or supererogation, or insofar as their good is bound up with the good of the greater whole). As moderates, then, we are committed to this pro tanto reason after all; still, though, our conception of persons’ moral status as a whole supports both the acceptance of this reason and options.

As Kagan is thinking of it, the pro tanto reason to promote the overall good is an insistent reason for action – one “demanding action in the absence of countervailing considerations.”38 Such a reason may encounter countervailing reasons in the form of certain constraints on what may be done to promote the overall good (though Kagan is skeptical of this possibility), but as he argues at great length throughout his book, none of the reasons that might ever serve to override the insistent reason to promote the good will ever take the form of anything like options. Hence, he thinks, acceptance of the pro tanto reason commits one to extremism – and, short of one’s ability to defend constraints, to consequentialism. But – though our affirmation that persons are indeed worthy of concern does commit us to accepting the pro tanto reason – does it require that this reason be an insistent reason? Might not the ‘persons as worthy of concern’ dimension of our personhood-respecting motive simply generate a non-insistent reason to promote the greater overall good? Such a non-insistent reason is one that, at any time an agent wanted to, could be invoked to justify her action (provided that that action does not violate a constraint), but is not in need of countervailing considerations in order for the agent to be justified in not acting on it.

I believe that in fact, the ‘persons as worthy of concern’ dimension of the bargainers’ second motivation can and must generate a non-insistent reason to promote the overall good. For otherwise, this aspect of the personhood-respecting motive would be at odds with the belief that persons are ends-in-themselves – that they “have a point


Kamm 1992, p. 356.


Document info
Document views166
Page views167
Page last viewedSun Jan 22 08:19:57 UTC 2017