Should We Prevent Deontological Wrongdoing?
Philosophical Studies, Vol. 173, pp. 2049-2068, 2016
34 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2015 Last revised: 20 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 27, 2015
Is there a reason to prevent deontological wrongdoing – an action that is wrong due to the violation of a decisive deontological constraint (when there is no consequential reason against it)? This question is perplexing. On the one hand, the intuitive response seems to be positive, both when the question is considered in the abstract and when it is considered with regard to paradigmatic cases of deontological wrongdoing such as Bridge and Transplant. On the other hand, common theoretical accounts of deontological wrongdoing do not entail this answer, since not preventing wrongdoing does not necessarily amount to doing harm or intending harm, for example (and, in cases in which the consequences of deontological wrongdoing are good, entail the opposite answer that preventing deontological wrongdoing in wrong). The puzzle is reinforced due to the fact that the intuitive response to other cases seems to be different, namely that there is no reason in favor of preventing deontological wrongdoing. This question is thus interesting in itself. It might also shed light on additional questions such as the “paradox of deontology” and the appropriate response to wrongful actions more generally. Yet, despite its importance, this question is typically overlooked. The paper explores this question.
Keywords: Deontology; Wrongdoing; Prevention
JEL Classification: K00, K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation