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Can a consequentialist be a real friend? (Who cares?)

by Lif, Jan, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
The focal point of this dissertation is a recent debate on consequentialism and friendship. The main question considered is, “Can a consequentialist be a real friend?” Prior to that discussion, the notions ‘friendship’ and ‘consequentialist’ are explained. In the second chapter, it is claimed that ‘friendship’ is primarily about holding a distinctive ‘perspective’ on the other person and the relation one have with that person. In the discussion regarding the notion ‘consequentialist’, an overview of the history of utilitarianism is first provided in the third chapter as a background. In the fourth chapter it is then argued that the debate on consequentialism and friendship involves four different types of consequentialists, depending upon how the relation between ‘moral reasons’ and ‘motivations’ is conceived. By means of a critical analysis of the main arguments for and against the thesis that a consequentialist can be a real friend, set in relation to the outlined perspective required for ‘friendship’ and various conceptions of ‘consequentialist’, it is concluded that all types of consequentialists can be real friends. But in the final chapter, it is discussed whether this conclusion can show consequentialism true or false, and it is argued that the answer is no. The reason for this is that the debate itself is based upon a special conception of ‘moral philosophy’, which cannot account for the possible morality involved in friendship. This is revealed by means of certain critique put forward against this conception of moral philosophy which stems from contemporary feminist ethics. The final conclusion is that a consequentialist can be a real friend, but it is doubtful whether anyone really cares about this conclusion, as it does not make any difference to morality.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Göteborgs universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; History and philosophy subjects; Philosophy subjects; Practical philosophy; Consequentialism; Ethics; Morality; Moral principles

ISBN:91-7346-468-6

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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