. 10
( 10)

and Confucian natural and beautiful qualities. They have a less obvious
relationship to continuing agency.
We can expect PC to incorporate a duty to cultivate the agency virtues.
But the various reconstructions also deploy other duties to self that oth-
erwise re¬‚ect the agency virtues. Some are correlative duties to these
virtues. Some add greater detail or extend our responsibilities. Some of
these possible duties forbid drunkenness, gluttony, unchastity, and even the
use of intoxicants. Others help to constitute continuing agency in other
ways “ for instance, by forbidding suicide, self-mutilation, and reckless
impairment of health, or by enjoining us to further our own perfection
and develop our gifts. There is also the Buddhist precept of right effort.
PC will incorporate agent-constituting and agent-governing reasons
that support all of these agency virtues and duties, at least to the degree
that they create effective individual action for proper goals. This gives
normative spin to this class of intuitive duties and virtues. For instance,
courage directed toward evil ends is not a virtue in this way according to
PC, nor is deviously evil intelligence, and it is implausible to think that
chastity is an agency virtue in most contexts. But this is spin that leaves PC
well within the broad con¬nes of commonsense morality. And there is also
a second level of support for agency virtues suggested by the structure of
JGT, and the corresponding treatment of fundamental agency goods that
are not genuine, which, depending on the details of our bene¬cent group
acts, may enjoin support for agency virtues even beyond those in support
of proper projects. This makes PC even more intuitive. It also implies that
PC is in one way dependent on relatively historically contingent details of
our current common sense. Normative con¬‚icts that involve these duties
and virtues are to be decided, and vaguenesses resolved, by reference to
the higher-order structure already incorporated in PC.
Despite the fact that PC is adequately intuitive with respect to these tra-
ditional elements, there are evident complications that attend the interac-
tion of the general structure of JGT and such traditional duties and virtues.
Some of the traditional virtues are perhaps not, and others are not merely,
agency virtues in the strict sense, but still support effective cooperative
group agents in other relevant ways. For instance, fortitude, patience, and
temperance can support one™s role in group action involving other peo-
ple. And socially attractive virtues like Aristotelian friendliness and ready
wit are effective general means to the success of individual projects, and
perhaps necessary in some degree if one is to be a candidate in the eyes
of others for many forms of group action. These social virtues have a

place in PC when deployed in pursuit of proper projects, though their
place may be dependent on local convention to a large degree. Another
complication is that absence of even some of the traditional temperance-
like agency virtues and violation of some of the correlative duties does
not really undercut one™s effective agency, at least in the absence of local
conditions that make them socially attractive virtues. These unnecessary
virtues include the elements of chastity in the reconstructions that extend
beyond ordinary temperance and also the strict avoidance of intoxicants.
There are also duties and virtues not on the standard lists that are quite
like the standard cases under discussion from our speci¬c perspective,
including physical strength and correlative duties to develop that virtue.
But these complications also seem well within appropriate commonsense
The next class of duties to consider are general obligations. There
are also allied virtues that are ¬xed dispositions to ful¬ll such general
obligations and to have supporting sentiments, and also allied duties to
cultivate those virtues. But it should be enough for us to focus on the
basic duties of general obligation.
Most reconstructions of commonsense morality recognize abstract gen-
eral obligations like benevolence and justice. Benevolence and justice are
not merely virtues, but duties. A certain interpretation of these duties
is already included in PC, in agent-constituting reasons that mirror the
agent-governing reasons constituting the higher-order normative struc-
ture of PC sketched in the last section. HMP, DD, and VLD, the reasons
constituting acceptance of TLC, and the prima facie reasons that encode
acceptance of what we might call for-the-most-part goods, represent one
plausible interpretation of benevolence and justice, not just as virtues but
also as duties.
But let me focus on very intuitive general obligations of a slightly less
abstract sort. It is clear that commonsense morality is very concerned
with certain goods and evils other than pleasure, which are intuitively
relevant to ¬lling out concretely our obligations of benevolence and jus-
tice, or alternatively in expanding the class of general obligations beyond
them. And it is also clear that common sense generally cedes special nor-
mative signi¬cance to avoiding direct harms of these sorts. The various
reconstructions of common sense exhibit much concern with general
obligations against lying, killing, causing injury, imprisoning, and causing
the frustration of desire.
These concerns may seem a long way from HMP. Still, there is a
variety of general mechanisms that link these intuitive general obligations

to the higher-order structure of PC. TLC and the for-the-most-part goods
include the central goods in question, and the risk-averse and maximin
form of HMP creates a kind of natural normative salience for physical
injuries. But the main way in which JGT incorporates intuitive respect
for standard deontological restrictions on action is through the mechanism
of MAC, as we discussed in Part One. This is already abstractly re¬‚ected
in PC, because of its incorporation of DD and VLD, given the contingent
existence of the group acts that I earlier deployed. Violation of the standard
deontological prescriptions is in fact often defection from a one-off group
act with a weighty project, and hence a violation of DD or VLD. But
here we are concerned with the lower-order structure of PC.
PC incorporates agent-constituting and some relatively concrete agent-
governing reasons that re¬‚ect deontological restrictions. We already saw
this in a general way in Chapter 3, but let me apply that general model
to all the cases we now face.
Lying is forbidden to one degree or another by almost all recon-
structions of commonsense morality. There are lots of differences in
detail about when and how. For instance, this negative duty is much
less defeasible according to Kant than according to Sidgwick. Ross makes
it a species of promise, and Confucian hsin suggests that it is part of a
very general virtue that extends as far as accurate predictions. Scanlon
thinks that we often have a positive duty to provide the truth, and some
think that actively misleading true speech is as bad as lying, while others
But we already discussed this case in Chapter 3. The following four
relatively concrete tenets are quite general directives of MAC, which
in the context of our actual group practices and the truth of HMP are
quite signi¬cant, though they are phrased in such a way as to make them
appropriate beyond our speci¬c current conditions: (1) Do not lie, and
more generally, do not create false expectations or fail to deliver relevant
information, within a group agent with a properly bene¬cent goal that
lies outside of the practice of cooperation itself,23 unless a violation of
that duty is sanctioned by VLD or DD, or the lie serves the project of
the group, or the lie is acceptable in the practice. (2) If other things are
equal, do not lie, and more generally, do not create false expectations or
fail to deliver relevant information, to another agent or group agent with
a properly bene¬cent project. (3) Do not lie, and more generally, do not

23 This phrase distinguishes this obligation from that expressed by (3).

create false expectations or fail to deliver relevant information, whenever
you are within a one-off group agent creating a sphere of truth-telling of
some sort that is itself a proper project, unless a violation of that duty is
sanctioned by VLD or DD, or unless the lie is acceptable in the practice.
(4) Join such groups whenever that is required on direct consequentialist
grounds, except when that is forbidden by MAC.
You and I are in fact within a widespread one-off group agent such as
mentioned in directive (3), which is quite weighty according to HMP.
The collapse of our one-off practice of truth telling would present salient
downside risks of intense physical pain. So the fourth phrase of the third
precept will be omitted from a yet more speci¬c precept that PC will
also incorporate in our still quite general situation. Because this prac-
tice is so weighty, VLD and DD will very seldom sanction exceptions.
The practice itself, of course, speci¬es some appropriate exceptions from
rigorous truth telling. It does not forbid some lies and allows a certain
amount of misleading speech. But, roughly speaking, you should lie in a
way forbidden by that practice only when you can gain as much value by
that defection from our general group act as that whole vast cooperative
practice creates. That will require quite unusual circumstances.
Notice that I have framed the general precepts in the preceding para-
graphs to encompass implicit and explicit promises as well as lies. So while
promise keeping is a concern of some reconstructions of commonsense
morality, we needn™t give it speci¬c attention here.
A precept forbidding killing is found in most of the reconstructions
of commonsense morality, but there are differences about killing animals.
Here again, we can rely on our earlier discussions. JGT suggests that ani-
mal pain is normatively signi¬cant, but that killing nonhuman animals is
not specially problematic, given the capacities of most of the nonhuman
animals with which we interact, unless there are proper group acts that
forbid such killing. Killing humans is another matter. Killing others with
whom one is engaged in group activity of course eliminates the possibility
of cooperative activity. Even in the unlikely event that the project of the
group is favored by the murder of a single member, still this involves a
violation of cooperative activity in pursuit of that goal, unless that pos-
sibility is speci¬cally endorsed by the whole group and in particular by
the member murdered. And of course there is a general group act among
humans of not murdering one another, though with some exceptions,
which is a one-off group agent with a weighty proper project. It is also
relevant that participation in this general form of cooperation is a likely
precondition for admission into most forms of group activity, and that

killing others will undercut their individual proper projects and those of
the group agents of which they are part.
With those links understood, we can see that the following analogues
of our earlier precepts governing lying will be found in PC as weighty
reasons: (1) Do not kill human or nonhuman cooperators within a group
agent with any properly bene¬cent project having a goal that lies outside
of that practice, unless a violation of that duty is sanctioned by VLD or
DD. (2) If other things are equal, do not kill humans or other agents
who have (or are parts of group agents that have) proper projects. (3) Do
not kill whenever you are within a one-off group agent creating a sphere
of nonmurder that is itself a proper project, unless a violation of that
duty is sanctioned by VLD or DD, or is sanctioned by the practice as an
appropriate exception. (4) Join such groups whenever that is required on
direct consequentialist grounds, except when that is forbidden by MAC.
You and I are within such a practice as the third precept invokes. Since
we have a general cooperative practice forbidding murder under most
conditions that is a group act that is quite normatively signi¬cant by the
tenets of JGT, PC largely forbids murder outright. You may murder to save
the entire world from destruction, but you cannot murder an innocent
even to stop most wars, because a generally brutish state of nature has
worse downside risks than most speci¬c wars.
Stealing is forbidden by nearly all reconstructions of commonsense
morality. Still, Donagan introduces intuitively relevant questions about
the justice of property arrangements. These questions are outside of the
space of our presumptions in this chapter, but still conditionally quite
signi¬cant according to the just good theory. In general, stealing will be
forbidden by PC when it violates conditions necessary for the existence
of effective group agents with proper projects of which one is part, at least
when those agents and projects are suf¬ciently weighty according to JGT.
It will also be forbidden when other agents™ proper projects of suf¬cient
normative weight would be undercut, or when it directly violates HMP
or extensions allowed by TLC and the conception of for-the-most-part
goods. So far, this would provide greater normative protection for prop-
erty that is deployed in support of proper projects. But if an institution
of property itself constitutes a one-off group agent with a proper project,
then members of the group agent will be forbidden to steal except when
that is sanctioned by VLD or DD. Those on the outside of that group
agent, who may not necessarily include all those without property rec-
ognized in that practice, would have no special obligation to respect that
property, unless they have a direct consequentialist obligation to join it.

It seems to me an open question whether our own practice of property
meets these various propriety conditions.
Many of the relatively recent reconstructions of commonsense morality
involve extensions of traditional concerns about killing, lying, and stealing
toward more general prohibitions against injuring, disabling, depriving of
freedom, causing pain or depriving of pleasure, manipulating, and caus-
ing emotional upset such as that in¬‚icted by calumny, mockery, ridicule,
disparagement, and even impoliteness.
Physical and phenomenally analogous pain and pleasure have, of course,
a special status in JGT, but one that may be reinforced and re¬ned in vari-
ous ways by the role of those feelings in supporting cooperative behavior.
One certainly relevant point about at least physical injuries is that they
are generally connected to pains that HMP makes especially salient. But
it is also relevant that the agency of others in support of proper projects
is undercut if I cut off their feet at every opportunity.
And what of the other cases under consideration? First, the gradual his-
torical development within common sense of prohibitions against injury,
imprisonment, and even emotional pain seems to track an historical devel-
opment in the forms of important group acts. If you beat me up every
time we meet, we cannot function effectively together as a group agent in
pursuit of certain proper projects, which is unfortunately not to say that
oppressive group arrangements are not quite stable and capable of provid-
ing groups with opportunities for effective group action “ for instance,
in war. Still, if you cut off my feet, then I can™t run to your assistance
or run off to perform my task in a group project. And if you imprison
me, I cannot effectively perform my role either. Even manipulation may
undercut my cooperative abilities. Abstention from various harms and
from manipulation of certain sorts preserves the conditions necessary
for the existence of certain forms of group agent, in which the various
atomic agents involved are able to act effectively in their individual roles.
These can be very effective forms of group agent in pursuit of proper
projects of weighty sorts. Indeed, mutual abstentions from injury and
manipulation may themselves constitute proper one-off group actions,
which have grown historically in a way that also tracks the development
of these elements in commonsense moral codes.
In light of these links, PC includes the following precepts as weighty
reasons. (1) Do not injure, disable, deprive of freedom, manipulate, or
cause pain or deprivation of pleasure to those who are cooperating mem-
bers of a group agent, in any manner that undercuts the effectiveness
of that group agent, when that group agent has a proper project that

lies outside of that cooperative practice, unless a violation of that duty is
sanctioned by VLD or DD. (2) If other things are equal, do not injure,
disable, deprive of freedom, manipulate, or cause pain or deprivation of
pleasure of a sort that undercuts the effectiveness of the agency of those
who are cooperating members of group agents with proper projects or
who are acting on proper projects themselves. (3) Do not injure, disable,
deprive of freedom, manipulate, or cause pain or deprivation of pleasure
whenever you are within a one-off group agent creating such a cooper-
ative sphere that is itself a proper project, unless a violation of that duty
is sanctioned by VLD or DD, or unless an exception is allowed by the
practice. Of course, we now have cooperative practices of just this sort.
(4) Join such groups whenever that is required on direct consequentialist
grounds, except when that is forbidden by MAC.
But there is another set of cases under consideration. Mockery, impo-
liteness, ridicule, and disparagement may be capable of a similar treatment.
But when constrained by proper truth telling and various special obliga-
tions “ for instance, to children “ it seems that commonsense morality
does not determinately rule them immoral in any special way. Certainly
according to JGT there will be a limit to the normative weight of any
relevant general group acts that eschew them. But the deontic avoidance
of these forms of “emotional injury” is not recognized as a constraint of
commonsense morality by most reconstructions.
On the other hand, there are some limited ways in which emotional
injuries have a derived status in PC. A tendency to in¬‚ict such injuries may
violate some of the socially attractive virtues. And physical pain deeply
matters in an intrinsic way, so if ever “emotional pain” is suitably similar
and involves negative hedonic tone, that will matter. Most important,
perhaps, the in¬‚iction of emotional pain will matter when it undercuts
effective agency in pursuit of proper projects. So avoidance of some sorts
of mockery is required even by the duty not to manipulate. And special
obligations to avoid such things may re¬‚ect, protect, or constitute small
and intimate spheres of cooperation that are weighty. They are our next
The last set of content differences among various reconstructions of
commonsense morality involves special obligations. There is some arbi-
trariness in how we draw the line between these and general obligations.
For instance, promise keeping is a kind of special obligation that is yet
naturally covered by our earlier discussion of truth telling. Many accounts
recognize a general duty not to break laws and also related obligations
of citizenship that are recognizably special obligations, but which are

naturally treated by JGT in much the same way that it treats stealing.
But whatever their proper classi¬cation, we need to give some attention
to at least the duties of gratitude and reparation as recognized by Ross,
as also to obligations among friends and to family. These are obligations
that constitute an important feature of many traditional codes.
The just good theory naturally treats special obligations to friends
and family as arising from relatively small-scale group agents with proper
projects. The acceptance of certain reasons that are not accepted by others
outside of the group agent helps to constitute its existence. If I accept your
directives as reasons, that may help make me a member of a group agent
in which you have a certain role of authority. But of course it is important
according to JGT that the group agent in question have a proper project,
and of course we must balance this form of group agency against other
con¬‚icting forms.
Consider key cases. We have already discussed MAC™s analysis of family
obligations in Chapter 3, and the case of friends is quite similar. Families
and friendships may be normatively weighty forms of group agent, with
proper projects. But a grasping and powerful family or friendship may not
have a proper project. And destructive families and friendships generate no
special obligations by this basic mechanism. And JGT delivers no natural
role for differences in hierarchical status within families or friendships
unless they help to constitute effective forms of group agency for proper
goals. So the hierarchical forms of family relations and even of friendly
relations expressed in some of the traditional reconstructions have no
natural place in PC.
But it may also be relevant that even hierarchical or somewhat destruc-
tive families or friendships are instances of effective forms of actual group
cooperation with proper goals “ say, the care of children “ to which there
is no locally salient alternative, and that they may re¬‚ect quite general nor-
mative one-off group acts, general conventions stabilized by accepted rea-
sons and establishing social forms for families or even friendships, which,
while not the best possible, are still weighty according to JGT. Still, these
excusing conditions seem largely absent in the contemporary situation of
academic ethicists.
We have also already discussed duties of gratitude and reparation. Spe-
ci¬c duties of reparation are sometimes duties to restore forms of group
action that one has violated, or more speci¬cally, to make it be that in fact
one hasn™t in the end really violated a reciprocal obligation in the manner
one™s past activity alone would suggest. Duties of reparation can be in this
way a present shadow cast by the combination of one™s former cooperative

obligations within a group agent and one™s past action in apparent viola-
tion of those obligations. And duties of gratitude are sometimes duties to
avoid the failures that occasion duties of reparation, as well as straightfor-
ward cooperative obligations within group agents that root later duties of
But gratitude and reparation are arguably also general duties that serve
to foster the existence of a variety of effective group agents, rooted in a
proper one-off group act, although the propriety of this practice is also
arguably as suspect as our general practice of risk sharing. Another relevant
point is that, like the socially attractive virtues, a tendency to ful¬ll duties
of gratitude and reparation makes one a likely candidate in others™ eyes
for effective forms of group action.
The special normative status of gratitude and reparation is real but
limited according to JGT. For instance, unless a group agent within which
gratitude and reparation may exist has a proper project, such gratitude
and reparation have no automatic special normative status. They also have
no such special status unless they are of a form really necessary to the
existence of that effective group agent. And in con¬‚icts between small
group agents and weightier group acts constituting deontic practices, DD
will not sanction violation of general duties. But it may also be, as I said,
that there is a general and proper group agent that generally prescribes
gratitude and reparation of certain sorts.


PC as so far speci¬ed is somewhat complicated, but so is commonsense
morality, and in analogous ways. PC is a house in which we could live, a
boat in which to sail. It is suitably intuitive in detail. In many ways, it is
near the middle of the various reconstructions of commonsense virtues
and duties in the second and third historical waves, and even in the ¬rst.
Even when it is not in the middle, it is still appropriately intuitive. It
has a role for most of the normative elements recognized by any of the
reconstructions, and all of the elements recognized by the majority of the
reconstructions in the most relevant second and third waves. And we saw
in section II that it incorporates a properly intuitive conception of the
This con¬‚uence of the just good theory and common sense presumes
the existence of speci¬c group agents. But it is clear that there are corre-
sponding group practices, and they seem to exhibit the entwined benev-
olence and reciprocity characteristic of group acts. This con¬‚uence also

presumes that the background institutions of our lives are suitably legiti-
mate. As I said, I am not con¬dent that that is true. And if it is false, then
all bets are off about the con¬‚uence of JGT and commonsense moral intu-
ition. But that is no special objection to JGT. If common sense is wrong
about that, then all moral bets are off anyway. The con¬‚uence further and
more crucially presumes that the key normative one-off group acts that I
have deployed here are appropriately bene¬cent according to HMP. But
so they seem to be, with the possible exceptions I have noted, which if
improper themselves constitute illegitimate background institutions.
The dragons are dead and the just good theory is true, at least if there
is natural ordinal hedonic value. You may think that they are only snoring
away, but remember that conclusions in ethics are by necessity boring.
Commonsense morality and JGT properly coincide, and so philosophical
ethics is legitimate.
But there are possible alternatives to this happy outcome still in play. If
there is no hedonic value of any sort, then no direct vindication of a basic
normative principle is possible, and so philosophical ethics fails. Probably
there are no genuine practical reasons at all. The world is grey in all its
forking paths.
But what if hedonic value is cardinal, so that HMP is false and total
utilitarianism true? As far as I can see, the key arguments I have deployed
in this chapter are still, mutatis mutandis, mostly successful. HMP suggests
that we look at worst-case scenarios, downside risks. And in particular, it
suggests that we look at downside risks of intense physical pain, however
¬‚eeting or narrowly distributed. And the total utilitarian multiple-act con-
sequentialist will rather ask about expectations for change in total utility.
Still, the group acts we have crucially deployed here, commonsense moral
practices, plausibly meet both tests. Our truth telling practice plausibly
protects us against both expectation of overall loss of total hedonic utility
and downside risks of great pain. It is not that we would always lie if there
were no such practice, but the group act in question gets normative credit
for all the lies that it prevents and their results. And that seems enough on
either normative option.
Of course, a code implied by total utilitarianism in conjunction with
MAC would look a little different. It would deploy a total utilitarian
principle instead of HMP. And it would rank options differently and
assess some con¬‚icts adjudicated through DD and VLD in a different
way. But the differences seem not to matter much in the situations we
have faced in this chapter. If there is cardinal hedonic value, then total
utilitarianism is true, and commonsense morality and the conjunction

of MAC and total utilitarianism still suf¬ciently coincide so that ethics
is viable.
There are certain features of PC that we haven™t yet speci¬ed, because
they address issues that are left unresolved by contemporary academic
commonsense morality, except perhaps by reference to its vague and
unsupportable sel¬shness, a sel¬shness that would be recti¬ed in the
more bene¬cent concentric group morality that eschews that unfortu-
nate detail of our common sense. In such cases, total utilitarianism and
HMP do sometimes pull in different directions, despite MAC. And we
should consider at least some of these features anyway.
We might not like to wear life jackets in canoes, though there is a gen-
eral group act of doing so. They are hot and uncomfortable. On balance, it
might even serve utility if people generally didn™t wear them. But if people
generally didn™t, there is a downside likelihood that someone somewhere
would feel intense pain. Under such conditions, JGT says you ought to
leave your life jacket on, even if it is a little uncomfortable, and even if
you™d rather run the tiny risk of painful drowning. Utilitarian principles
when conjoined with MAC suggest otherwise. So we can expect some
precepts in a fully developed version of PC that would not appear in the
total utilitarian analogue.
Would there be any interesting differences? I think so. But begin with
another and still simple case that involves, if total utilitarianism is true,
less a modi¬cation of PC than a surprise about its implications. There
is a group act of desisting from torture. There probably wouldn™t be a
huge number of acts of torture even if there were no such group act.
People aren™t that nasty. But the acts of torture whose absence is due
to the group act weigh very heavily against anything you might gain
from a local deviation, according to both normative principles in play,
no matter how well intentioned and well directed your use of torture
might be. Still, perhaps you™ve never joined the group. You never publicly
admit it, but you don™t really accept the complex reasons constituting the
group act of not torturing even for bene¬cent ends. You dissent in your
classically utilitarian heart. No doubt there will be a day on which it will
greater serve overall well-being for you to join the cooperative sphere
of nontorture, and then you will be bound inside. But you can put off
joining for a day. Under those conditions, the conjunction of MAC and
utilitarianism would allow you to act toward some plausibly benevolent
end today via an individual act of torture. Because HMP focuses on
downside risks of intense pain, it does not yield the same result in the
same circumstances. To use torture toward a benevolent end is always to

risk, on the downside, that the torture might occur without the desired
I do not introduce this case to convince you that total utilitarianism
is false even when conjoined with MAC. I think that if there is cardinal
hedonic value, then total utilitarianism is true, whether I like it or not. I
don™t even introduce it to suggest that there are general intuitive advantages
that stem from the fact that HMP requires risk aversion of those who defect
from or abjure standard group practices, although I think there surely are.
I introduce it rather to focus attention on the signi¬cance according to
MAC of dissent in the heart, and because of its structural similarity to a
case that commonsense morality does not adequately resolve but that we
will shortly consider. Let me begin with the ¬rst point.
Violation of common normative practices such as that against lying will
occasion criticism of someone even if in their heart they do not accept that
lying is any big deal. And we certainly cannot conclude from the fact that
you will be criticized for not doing something that you are participating in
a group act of doing that thing. So perhaps quasi-deontological criticism
of liars who in their hearts do not accept our antilying practice is unjust
according to MAC. They can still be criticized for being outside the
practice, of course, but that™s not quite the same thing.
That is troubling. It is also troubling that while congenital liars will
generally have straightforward act consequentialist grounds for joining
such antilying practices, they might not always have such reasons. Perhaps
this seems an objection to MAC.
But there is a mitigating complication. Remember that we accept
reasons with different degrees of motivational ef¬cacy. To be truly outside
a group on such grounds, you cannot accept relevant reasons at all, in your
heart or anywhere else. You cannot be a part of the group act of trying to
avoid lies in even the slightest and most evanescent way. You must not be
even disposed to complain on quasi-deontological reciprocal grounds if
someone lies to you. For this to be true in the lying case, you would need
to have a psychology unlike normal human psychology. Perhaps some do,
but not many.
So you may be inside more group acts, and they may have more mem-
bers, than it appears on the basis of gross behavior alone. And there is a
second complication that swells the number of group agents to which you
belong. Some might suggest that all the actual cooperators who are part
of a group act must be here in the present, and in fairly close proximity.
But that is not the correct conception of group acts. You and I can share
projects on which we continue to coordinate while rowing off to different

parts of the world, perhaps never to see one another again. And we can
inherit a common project from the past even if we have never ourselves
been close enough to be in communication. Indeed, no common cause
of our acceptance of the relevant reasons is necessary. We may still be dis-
posed to criticize one another in characteristic ways and to accept those
characteristic sorts of criticism if we ever happen to run into one another.
Perhaps our dispositions aren™t focused on one other by name, but still they
can be suf¬ciently focused on people in general, or on people of general
sorts. And we might be disposed to actively coordinate activity, if only the
opportunity arose. We can in this way recognizably share a common goal,
supported by a kind of reciprocity and cooperation. So the spatial loca-
tion of the cooperators is irrelevant. Nor are differences in time relevant.
Remember that, according to MAC, individual prudence over time is one
kind of group action in which you participate all by yourself. And while
time asymmetries are important to some ethical theories, I have argued in
Chapter 7 against their deep normative signi¬cance. Future cooperators
are relevant as well as past cooperators, according to MAC. Of course,
you don™t know who the future cooperators will be, nor even that there
will be any. But you don™t necessarily know many of the relevant present
cooperators either. And you probably don™t know the relevant effects or
indeed even the relevant objective probabilities of your individual acts.
Ignorance is a kind of excuse, but ignorance does not in these particular
ways affect what you should in fact do. Consequentialists should be used
to that.
We are now in a position to properly consider an interesting normative
question that cannot be consistently answered by commonsense morality
in its unre¬ned state, but that would be addressed by a fully detailed
development of PC, one that also reveals some differences between the
implications of total utilitarianism and HMP when conjoined with MAC.
It will still take us a while to get properly back to those differences.
Derek Par¬t has plausibly suggested that commonsense morality was
formed by pressures in small communities in a less technologically
advanced world. In the past, we didn™t need to deal with situations in
which big nasty effects like ozone depletion or global warming are the
result of huge numbers of individual actions that each make trivially small
contributions to those large effects. We have little guidance from com-
monsense morality regarding our moral obligations in these situations,
which are now quite important.
Common sense does not determinately suggest that it is grossly
immoral to buy an SUV for idle urban use, or even a big yellow Humvee.

It is not customary to claim that an individual act can be grossly wrong
when its negative effects on other people are imperceptible. But consider
also Par¬t™s analogous case:
A thousand torturers have a thousand victims. At the start of each day, each of the
victims is already feeling mild pain. Each of the torturers turns a switch a thousand
times on some instrument. Each turning of the switch affects some victim™s pain
in a way that is imperceptible. But, after each torturer has turned his switch a
thousand times, he has in¬‚icted severe pain on his victim.24

The negative effects of each act are imperceptible, but every single act is
wrong, even grossly so. Common sense does not, it seems to me, deter-
minately resolve this apparent con¬‚ict in cases. But JGT and hence PC
can resolve it. Even just MAC can resolve it.
If buying an SUV is part of a group act with horrendous consequences,
it may be deeply immoral according to MAC. And that doesn™t require a
lot. Perhaps almost everyone who buys an SUV thinks that “it™s my money
and I can do with it what I want as long as it doesn™t harm anybody in
a signi¬cant way.” Perhaps they participate in that normatively weighty
practice, and indeed would criticize someone who started to think in a
different way in support of a contrary practice, who fell away from that
group. Then their individual action might be part of a horrendous group
act, at least if it risks intense suffering that would otherwise not occur.
But presume there is no such group act. Presume that those who buy
SUVs accept no supporting reasons, and that they wouldn™t criticize any
sel¬‚ess fool who doesn™t buy one. They aren™t even disposed to criticize
the sel¬‚ess fool to themselves, in their mind™s ear, as a fool. Presume that
they aren™t even part of some ideology that aims to take over public and
political space to make the world safe for rapacious capitalism and the
Rapture. Say someone just wants an SUV.
Still, there are other people out there, on the other side. They don™t
buy SUVs even though they want them and can afford them, and they are
inclined to criticize those who fall away from their group as going over
to the dark side. They are even inclined to criticize those always outside
their group as inappropriately reciprocal, as insuf¬ciently worried about
the effects of many people buying SUVs.
They may be wrong about some of those other people on the outside,
who may be so sel¬sh as never to accept any reciprocal responsibility in
such matters, even in some faint corner of their mind. Perhaps MAC

24 Par¬t (1984: 80).

suggests that those outside get off too easy, though they still have their
ordinary act consequentialist obligations to join group practices. We will
come back to that point.
But you want an SUV, and you don™t have that excuse. Inside there
somewhere, you feel the sting. You accept the relevant reasons, along with
other con¬‚icting reasons in your con¬‚icted self. You are disposed at least
in part to make and accept the relevant criticisms rooted in reciprocity and
bene¬cence. You are inside the group in the relevant sense, and to defect
would be immoral in a quasi-deontological way, according to MAC, even
if you usually do defect. There are others who do the right thing, and
there are enough of them so that the group has some signi¬cant effects.
If you were the only one in the world who ever worried about useless
and wasteful consumption, then the world would be dark and you would
have no group-based quasi-deontological obligation to refrain from your
purchase. If the group of cooperators is tiny, the normative weight of
the group is less. It is also insigni¬cant if, though there are many who
accept the relevant reasons in their heart, that never leads to real activity.
But if the group is active and large, and not necessarily as a percentage
of the total population, then the group act is signi¬cant. And remember
also that relevant cooperators might be in the future and, given a certain
abstraction in the project in question, in the past. Perhaps you and your
ancestors accept reasons supporting the group project of leaving the world
in as good shape when you die as it was when you were born. You are then
inside a relevant and weighty group. You must reciprocate. Or perhaps
everyone now is grossly sel¬sh and always has been, but in the scary future
when this problem is more vivid for all, many people will feel the pull
to cooperative activity of the relevant sort. Then you owe it reciprocally
to our descendants, even if you get nothing out of it, since you are, in at
least some faint corner of your heart, inside the relevant group act.
I have presumed that the group act in question is bene¬cent according
to HMP, and also total utilitarianism, but so it seems to be. Global warm-
ing risks intense pains that would otherwise not be risked, and misuse
of resources to achieve trivial goals means that those resources will not
be available to assuage other evident risks of great pain. Remember our
discussions of population issues at the end of the last chapter and in section
I if you think otherwise.
But what if you are in fact outside the group of do-gooders, and feel
no pull at all to restrain your consumption, if you accept no reasons of that
sort? Then your moral obligations are as ordinary act consequentialism
suggests, to ¬gure out whether joining the group would have a good effect

(presuming that it wouldn™t violate more weighty prior obligations), and
to accept or eschew the relevant reasons. And here a difference between
total utilitarianism and HMP becomes salient. According to the just good
theory, you should consider the downside risk of individual pain on each
option. In the worst-case scenario, perhaps you are the crucial threshold,
and without you the group fails to achieve its goal. Or perhaps in the
worst-case scenario your child will die in a violent traf¬c accident because
you join the group, and your joining will gain nothing. But most likely, in
the worst-case scenario the group will fail to achieve its goal because you
balk, and yet you will kill some other child with your big fat truck. Total
utilitarianism will ask instead about expected total utility. And it is quite
likely that, as in the case of torture we discussed earlier, a total utilitarian
can ¬nd a special way to use a big truck to create more utility than that
one truck will dissipate. If you have an act consequentialist obligation to
join the group, according to MAC you are obligated to join, other things
equal, and when you do, you will become bound by quasi-deontological
duties to refrain from ruthless consumption. But total utilitarianism will
not characteristically deliver an act consequentialist obligation to join,
while HMP characteristically will. Issues like this one, I think, either will
introduce explicit differences into any fully detailed code supported by
the conjunction of total utilitarianism and MAC, or at the very least will
give the code notably different implications.
There are other extensions of PC beyond the determinacy of com-
monsense morality. One case involves our obligations to the needy, and
for that I can appeal to our earlier discussion, in Chapter 3. According to
PC, you are obligated to give at least 2.5 percent of your annual income
to the poor and starving if you are relatively badly-off for a reader of this
book, and more lavishly if you are relatively rich. The poor and starving
have a natural moral claim on us, and so do those who do their share.
And you are inside the relevant group act, because you accept the relevant
reasons to at least some degree, I claim. To one degree or another, you
feel the sting.
Of course, this duty probably exists according to MAC even if HMP
is false and total utility is our guide. And indeed, I earlier made the
argument for this aspect of MAC without appeal to the peculiarities of
HMP. That may itself occasion worry. But of course starvation is very
painful, and our obligation is not merely to give charity, which may be
misused to exacerbate standing evils, but rather to participate in a group
act that actually feeds the starving. HMP may suggest that a little painful
starvation now may be better than the risk of a lot later on, and starvation

now may prevent the birth of more starving descendants. But still, that is
not the plausible implication of the absence of the temporally and spatially
vast group act of charity, which encompasses ¬xed participants across time.
The absence of the relevant group act wouldn™t buy a lot less starvation
later for a little today, but rather a lot more spread out over time.
Direct obligations to do more for the needy depend, on straight act
consequentialist grounds, on the normative weight of the generally benef-
icent group or individual acts from which you would hence defect or
refrain. And it may be that HMP and total utilitarianism will assess these
differently. But the basic obligation to the needy remains.


Both modi¬cations of traditional utilitarianism that I have proposed, the
distribution sensitivity of HMP and its application through Multiple-Act
Consequentialism, re¬‚ect what is in a sense a single thought, and not
merely because they are rooted in two concerns about justice. There are
moral agents and moral patients, beings who can act morally and beings
whose condition is relevant to those acts. The perhaps now-dominant
view of at least nonutilitarians is that individual people over their lives are
both the primary moral agents and the primary moral patients. But that is
wrong. Those three things “ persons, primary moral agents, and primary
moral patients “ often come apart.
Derek Par¬t has already developed this thought in a somewhat more
classically utilitarian framework.25 He has also argued that our reasons for
acting should become more impersonal, but not quite in the way that
objective hedonic value, ¬‚ecks, or group agents are impersonal. So my
version is somewhat different.
Consider ¬rst moral patients. I have argued that primary status as a
moral patient is determined by sentience, and that how pleasure is dis-
tributed matters not only over individual lives but also within individual
lives, that short periods of people™s lives, indeed spatio-temporal bits of
their experience, require moral consideration in something like an egal-
itarian way. The basic moral patients for HMP are ¬‚ecks of experience.
And MAC has obvious implications for the nature of moral agents. Nei-
ther individuals over their lives, nor individuals in moments of their lives,
nor even both together, are the sole moral agents. They are not even

25 Par¬t (1984).

the sole moral agents in which you at this moment take part. You also
are part of various forms of group agent. There is more than one agent,
indeed more than one type of agent, each with a distinct range of options,
in which you at this moment take part, and of which your momentary
behaviors are in various ways parts.
We ethicists should focus less on individual people over their individual
lives. They are neither the sole and crucial agents in ethics nor the sole
and crucial patients. On that relatively abstract point, common sense is
mistaken. Ethicists should worry more about distribution within lives.
And you and I at each moment of our adult lives are parts of agents that
span the round earth™s imagined corners.26
Our moral obligations depend on the true basic normative principle,
and that depends on the concrete facts about hedonic value. If there is
none, then there are no genuine normative truths. If it is ordinal, then
HMP is true. If it is cardinal, then total utilitarianism is true. And if it is
in between, then we are in between.
But our moral obligations also depend on the facts about group acts,
including not only the reasons we accept at this moment, somewhere
inside us, but also who is outside in the big world and in its future and
past, and the reasons they accept. And our obligations depend on the
effects of those group acts. And so ethics and something like politics are
closely entwined. Our social practices cannot be ignored by morality. And
they are not ¬xed objects for the ethicist to consider from the outside, big
brassy blocks. We are inside, and there is writing all over our walls.

26 Donne (1950).


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accepting reasons, 53“55, 274, 285, 307 Brink, D., 7, 148, 207
act consequentialism, 23 Broad, C. D., 158
ignores special obligations?, 24“25, Broome, J., 197
too demanding?, 24, 93“94 cardinality, 166“170, 221, 223, 305
too permissive?, 24, 64 Carson, T., 50, 111, 233
Adams, R., 25 Casell, E., 108
agency goods, 65“68, 279, 281, 283, cases
293 Ahab, 118, 230, 264
genuine, 66, 68 Albert and Bert, 71
agent-balancing reasons, 55, 57, 95, 288, Bombing, 73
289, 292 Bystander, 72
agent-centered restrictions, 70 experience machine, 113“119
agent-constituting reasons, 55“56, 66, 82, 88, Fat Man, 72
89, 90, 95, 96, 288, 292, 293, 295, Freud in pain, 111“113
296, 297, 298 Future-Tuesday Indifference, 243, 244
agent-governing reasons, 55, 56“57, 82, 88, Hospital Gas, 73
96, 288, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, Ivan Karamazov, 251“260, 268
297, 298 Loop, 74
animals, 69 Oedipus, 122
Aquinas, T., 19, 287, 291 Repugnant Conclusion, 267, 279
Aristotle, 9, 10, 19, 36, 122, 137, 151, 163, Sidetrack, 74
286 Transplant, 72
Arrow, K., 213 Trolley, 71“72
atomic agents, 33, 42“43, 83, 274 Within-a-Mile Altruism, 243
Ayer, A. J., 145 Casta˜ eda™s paradox, 27, 47“48
Chalmers, D., 149
basic good, 280 cognitivism and noncognitivism, 15, 140,
basic property, 140 145, 160
basic value, 109 communities, 91“92
benevolence, 11, 37, 58, 141, 297 concentric group agents, 62“63
Bentham, J., 106, 111, 168 concreteness, 143“144
Berkeley, G., 119, 181 consequentialism, 2, 10; see also act
Binmore, K., 261 consequentialism
Boyd, R., 148 objections linked with maximin, 257
Boyle, R., 15, 151 subjective and objective, 25
Brandt, R., 26 contractarianism, 11
Bratman, M., 38“40 Cummiskey, D., 68, 207

Damasio, A., 229 hedonism, 3, 5, 7“8, 18, 103, 183, 265,
DD, 48, 276, 289, 292 282
death and well-being, 121“123 and general intuitions, 110“138
deontic restrictions on action, 81“87 psychological, 108
general, 297“301 Heidegger, M., 172
special obligations, 302“304 HMP, see Hedonic Maximin Principle
deontological theories, 10 Hooker, B., 25
desire-based conceptions of well-being, 110,
117, 232, 282 indirect consequentialism, 25“26
informed, 112, 233 extensional equivalence with act
Diener, E., 237 consequentialism, 26“30
difference principle, 5 lacks rationale, 31
direct argument, 1, 143; see also too hypothetical, 30“31
transcendental vindication injury, 301“302
distribution within lives, 227“249 interpersonal comparability, 165“166, 192
Doctrine of Double Effect, 289
doing and allowing, 70“81, 250“260 Jackson, F., 32, 41, 149
Donagan, A., 19, 287, 289, 290, 291, 300 James, W., 173
dragons, 1, 13, 305 JGT, see just good theory
Duncker, K., 158 just good theory, 273, 275, 305
justice, 9, 297
Edgeworth, F., 168 justi¬catory reason giving, 13, 14, 139,
Edwards, R., 158, 176 140“143, 197, 203, 207, 209, 213,
egalitarianism of periods, 228, 229, 236 221
evil pleasures, 126“127, 134“138, 198, 200
Kamm, F., 237, 245, 289
families, 90“91 Kant, I., 9, 54, 126, 136, 198, 203, 282, 287,
feasible worlds, 187 289, 291, 298
¬nitude of, 191 knowledge and the good, 134“138
Feldman, F., 109 Kripke, S., 148
¬‚ecks of experience, 190, 197, 226, 227“249
Foot, P., 71“73 Leibniz, G., 205
for-the-most-part goods, 297 Lewis, C. I., 157
Frankena, W., 7 Lewis, D., 149
Fredrickson, B. and Kahneman, D., 229 lives as distributional locus, 226
Fried, C., 19, 287, 289 Locke, J., 15, 239
fundamental good, 68, 279, 280, 296 lotteries, 6, 187, 217
equiprobable, 218
Galileo, 151, 179, 180 Lucretius, 238
Gert, B., 19, 287, 289, 290, 291 lying, 67“68, 82“85, 294, 298“299, 307
Gibbard, A., 26“28, 29, 47, 53, 146, 285 Lyons, D., 26
Gilbert, M., 34“35
gratitude and reparation, 93, 303 MAC, see Multiple-Act Consequentialism
Grif¬n, J., 110, 111“115, 116, 121, 126 Mackie, J., 182, 235, 236, 245
group acts, 3“4, 33“42 Malm, H., 246
characterization of, 35“37, 53“57 maximin, 5“6, 8, 18, 185“270
forms of defection from, 60“61 and abstract intuition, 226“260, 270
McDowell, J., 15, 151, 172
Hanna. R., 76“77 McMahan, J., 246
Harris, J., 76 method of abstract cases, 128
Hedonic Maximin Principle, 5“7, 222, 247, abstract trade-off cases, 130“132
273, 274, 275, 292 equalized cases, 128“130
subprinciple for ordering lotteries, 220 relatively abstract trade-off cases, 133“138
subprinciple for ordering worlds, 213 Milgram, S., 53
proof of, 214“216 Mill, J. S., 10, 115, 175
hedonic value, 106, 108, 153“159, 177“178, modal harm, 246
190, 197, 222, 225, 305 Moore, G. E., 144, 148, 157, 160, 182

moral intuitions Prisoner™s Dilemma, 28
abstract, 18, 226“270 private language argument, 163
concrete, 18“19, 273, 275, 305 Problem of Evil, 268
More, H., 206 project-constituting reasons, 56
Multiple-Act Consequentialism, 3“4, 18, promises, 299
23“102, 265, 266, 273, 274, 276 proper projects, 66, 90, 95, 281, 283
demandingness, 93“102 Proposed Code, 9, 19, 262, 264, 270,
duties to self, 95“96 271“312
general duties, 65“87 prudence, 227, 229, 230
principle for joining group acts, 51, 292 traditional view of, 231
special obligations, 87“91 punishment, 92, 290
virtues, 295
murder, 86, 153, 299“300 quality of pleasures, 170, 172, 222
Murphy, L., 96“98 quasi-experience, 170, 173, 178
questionable cases, 205, 207, 214, 219
Nagel, T., 7, 87, 155, 227
natural good, 13, 14“15, 139“182 Railton, P., 25
naturalism Ramsey, F., 261
analytic reductive, 147 rationality, 141
constitutive, 140, 148, 182 Rawls, J., 5, 91, 124, 125, 135, 147, 249,
nonconstitutive, 150“153 252
negative group act, 58 reciprocity, 12, 37, 58, 141
negative utilitarianism, 208 Regan, D., 26
Newcomb™s problem, 246 religious codes, 286, 291, 294
non-naturalism, 140, 144, 160 restrictions on ordering worlds
Nozick, R., 113, 119 A (Abstraction), 192, 196“201
B (Null Addition), 193, 201“202
objective temporal patterning and C (Generality), 193, 201“202
well-being, 237, 243“245 D (Value Responsiveness), 194, 201“203
objectivist conceptions of well-being, 110, E (Weak Pareto), 194, 201“202
117, 124“126, 282 F (Separability), 195, 201“202
obligations from summation of small effects, G (Strong Ordinality), 195, 204“205
308“311 H (Weak Equity), 196, 198, 205“213
obligations to the starving, 96“102, 311“312 Argument from Value for, 207“209,
one-off group agents, 58, 66, 82, 262, 277, 220
278, 280, 288, 298 Argument from Equity for, 209“213,
open-question argument, 157 220
orderings, 187, 191 O (Completeness), 191, 196, 205
ordinality, 165“167, 192, 204 risk aversion, 226, 260“263
organic unity, 193, 198, 199, 203 Rohrbaugh, G., 33
Ross, W. D., 9, 10, 19, 109, 128“138, 287,
pain and pleasure, see also hedonism 289, 291, 298
externalism versus internalism, 107“108
Par¬t, D., 110, 227, 237, 238, 240, 242, 243, Sartre, J. P., 172
267, 308, 312 Scanlon, T., 7, 11“12, 19, 135, 257,
Pauline Principle, 78 263, 283“285, 287, 288, 291, 294,
PC, see Proposed Code 298
perspectival temporal patterning and Schef¬‚er, S., 7, 70, 188
well-being, 238, 240“243 Schelling, T., 118, 230
pessimism, 263“269, 278 self-defeat arguments, 242
Plato, 115, 126, 128, 171, 230 sensibility theories, 151, 181
Pogge, T., 98 Sidgwick, H., 7, 8, 12, 19, 107, 164, 223,
Popper, K., 208 227, 287, 289, 291, 298
Postow, B., 32 Singer, P., 99
principle of Defect to the Dominant, see DD Slote, M., 237
Principle of Suf¬cient Reason, 205, 212 Stevenson, C. L., 145
principle of Very Little Defection, see VLD Sturgeon, N., 148

Sumner, L., 105, 107, 112, 115“119 Tuomela, R., 40“41
authentic happiness, 116 two-dimensionalism, 149“150, 158, 161, 182
supervenience, 144
surplus cooperation, 29, 47 Unger, P., 74, 76
utilitarianism, 2“3, 10, 204, 227, 265, 277,
T¨ nnsj¨ , T., 32, 41, 169
a o 305
Temkin, L., 252“260, 263 utility, 2; see also utilitarianism
tertiary goods, 280, 281, 293
genuine, 280 van Roojen, M., 33, 232
important, 281 Velleman, J. D., 237
theft, 300“301 virtue-based theories, 10
Thomson, J. J., 71“73 VLD, 44“48, 276, 289, 292
three-level conception, see TLC von Neumann, J. and Morgenstern, O., 168,
Timeless Views, 236 261
tithe, 99
TLC, 280, 292 weak conservatism over risks, 219“220, 221
torture, 306 Wiggins, D., 15, 151, 172
transcendental vindication, 1, 13“17, 32“52, Williams, B., 94, 146
139“225 Wittgenstein, L., 163
Trolley Problem, 70, 274
trying as condition for action, 38 zak¯ t, 99



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