Date of this Version

9-1-2010

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Submitted Version.

Colyvan, M., Cox, D. & Steele, K. (2010). Modelling the moral dimension of decisions. Nous, 44(3), 503-529.

Access the publisher's website.

2010 HERDC submission. FoR Code: 220300

© Copyright Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 2010

Abstract

In this paper we explore the connections between ethics and decision theory. In particular, we consider the question of whether decision theory carries with it a bias towards consequentialist ethical theories. We argue that there are plausible versions of the other ethical theories that can be accommodated by "standard" decision theory, but there are also variations of these ethical theories that are less easily accommodated. So while "standard" decision theory is not exclusively consequentialist, it is not necessarily ethically neutral. Moreover, even if our decision-theoretic models get the right answers vis-à-vis morally correct action, the question remains as to whether the motivation for the non-consequentialist theories and the psychological processes of the agents who subscribe to those ethical theories are lost or poorly represented in the resulting models.

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