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be held in common with the minimalist or even the extremist. Kagan explicitly discusses the perfectly coherent (even if somewhat surprising) possibility that an extremist morality might feature constraints:

According to the extremist, morality does not straight- forwardly require you to choose that act, whatever it is, which can be reasonably expected to lead to the best consequences. [Such a view would constitute a consequentialist morality.] Rather, it restricts your choice to those acts not otherwise forbid- den. However, the extremist's claim itself is neutral on the issue of whether morality ever does forbid an act which would lead to the best consequences . . . [Suppose] constraints can be justified. Such a result is still compatible with the extremist's claim, and the extremist will continue to demand far more of an agent than the moderate . . . If there are constraints, then you are required to perform the optimal act among those acts which do not violate them. 5

Yet the moderate's position is different even from that of the extremist who believes in constraints because the moderate also believes in options. This is just to say that "the extremist accepts, and the moderate rejects, a general requirement to promote the good.”6 This claim that the moderate rejects the general requirement to promote the good is not to be confused with Kagan's claim that the moderate also accepts the pro tanto reason to promote the good; it is only that her acceptance of this pro tanto reason is tempered by her acceptance of options.

So it is the moderate’s defense of options that bears the brunt of Kagan’s attacks on moderate morality. Kagan believes it is the moderate’s commitment to these options that makes her position so hard to defend, and that if the moderate’s justification of options does not hold up in the face of his examination, she will be forced either to retreat into minimalism or to accept extremism.

So much, then, for the general contour of Kagan’s overall attack on moderate morality. Let us examine in detail two of the more specific challenges he offers to the moderate.

everything is morally permitted), and extreme libertarians (who recognize the validity of constraints, but deny that there is a moral requirement to provide aid)." (Kagan 1989, p. 5).


Kagan 1989, p. 8.


Kagan 1989, p. 9.


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