Consequentializing moral dilemmas

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The aim of the consequentializing project is to show that, for every plausible ethical theory, there is a version of consequentialism that is extensionally equivalent to it. One challenge this project faces is that there are common-sense ethical theories that posit moral dilemmas. There has been some speculation about how the consequentializers should react to these theories, but so far there has not been a systematic treatment of the topic. In this article, I show that there are at least five ways in which we can construct versions of consequentialism that are extensionally equivalent to the ethical theories that contain moral dilemmas. I argue that all these consequentializing strategies face a dilemma: either they must posit moral dilemmas in unintuitive cases or they must rely on unsupported assumptions about value, permissions, requirements, or options. I also consider this result's consequences for the consequentializing project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-289
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
Issue number3
Early online date22 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2020


  • consequentialism
  • consequentializing
  • ethical theory
  • moral dilemmas
  • normative ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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