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Let’s Get Real: Counterfactual Moral Theories in the Actual World

Webber, Daniel Frederick (2023) Let’s Get Real: Counterfactual Moral Theories in the Actual World. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Several prominent moral theories (such as contractualism, rule consequentialism, and Kantianism) ground morality in facts about what would happen if we accepted certain rules or principles. I show how this counterfactual approach fails to do justice to many of the ways in which right and wrong depend on facts about what actually happens. Our actions can be wrong, for instance, because of the risks they impose on those around us, or because they are unfair to others, but I show that contractualism and rule consequentialism have difficulty making sense of this. I also argue that these theories cannot account for the moral relevance of the social rules we have actually adopted. Finally, I argue that Kantians’ explanatory reliance on the counterfactual notion of universalizability leads them to miss the significance of our actual wrongs against others.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Webber, Daniel Frederickwebberdf@gmail.comdfw11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairPallikkathayil,
Committee CoChairLewinsohn,
Committee MemberThompson,
Committee MemberRosen,
Date: 6 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 June 2023
Approval Date: 6 September 2023
Submission Date: 23 June 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 106
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Moral theory, contractualism, rule consequentialism, Kantianism
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2023 01:29
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2023 01:29


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