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date: 24 March 2023


The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
R. S. DownieR. S. Downie

What it is right to do, as distinct from what it is good to do. One of the traditional problems of moral philosophy is that of relating the right and the good. For the utilitarian, or more generally the consequentialist, the right is instrumental in bringing about good in the form of the best possible consequences. Other philosophers, deontologists, have held that at least some actions are right for reasons intrinsic to their own natures, and independently of ‘the good’. Yet it seems hard to accept that the right has no relation to ‘the good’. One solution is to suggest that the right is indeed a means to ‘the good’ though not an external, instrumental means as the utilitarian suggests, but an internal, component means: the very performance of the right or of duties is itself an expression of ‘the good’.... ...

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