Boekhandel Douwes Den Haag

Against the Tyranny of Outcomes

Hurley, Paul (Sexton Professor of Philosophy, Sexton Professor of Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College)

Against the Tyranny of Outcomes

Against the Tyranny of Outcomes

Against the Tyranny of Outcomes


The outcome-centered accounts that dominate in philosophy claim to clarify our understanding of ourselves, but they instead lead us away from what we most value. The arguments here show the distortion to our self-understanding wrought by the tyranny of outcomes, and overthrow it, allowing greater authenticity in our political and legal practices.

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Beschrijving Against the Tyranny of Outcomes

Outcomes tyrannize over prevailing accounts of ethics, actions, reasons, attitudes, and social practices. The right action promotes the best outcome, the end of every action is an outcome to be promoted, reasons to act are reasons to promote outcomes, and preferences and desires rationalize actions that aim at the outcome of realizing their contents. This book canvasses two sets of seemingly powerful arguments, the first that outcome-centered ethics cannot be wrong, the second that it cannot be right. It proceeds to undermine the arguments that outcome-centered ethics cannot be wrong, in the process providing additional support for the arguments that it cannot be right. The tyranny of outcomes in ethics is given its appearance of legitimacy by ethical arguments that trade on conflations obscured from view by appeal to non-ethical accounts that are in the grips of these very same conflations. Rooting out the mistaken grounding for outcome-centered ethics involves rooting out the outcome-centered accounts of value, attitudes, reasons, and actions upon which the case for outcome-centered ethics depends, along with the considerations that have been offered to support them. The ethical and intuitive arguments for outcome-centered ethics are implausible, the outcome-centered accounts of attitudes, reasons and actions that form the cornerstone of the non-ethical argument shoring up outcome-centered ethics are implausible, and the considerations offered to bolster such outcome-centered accounts either themselves turn on the same equivocations that undermine the ethical arguments, or depend upon highly controversial positions in metaphysics and the theory of action. The result is a comprehensive argument for rejecting these outcome-centered accounts, stepping outside of this toxic outcome-centered circle. The conclusion points to only a few of the many significant implications of this comprehensive rejection of the tyranny of outcomes, with particular focus upon our democratic and legal practices. It demonstrates that outcome-centered accounts lead agents away from the quest for good reasons of the right kind--for integrated and authentic agency, and towards appeal to the wrong kinds of reasons and to bad reasons of the right kind.

OUP Oxford