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Evaluation Copy Request an Evaluation Copy. While many are born into prosperity, hundreds of millions of people lead lives of almost unimaginable poverty. Parfit defends an objective ethical theory and suggests that we have reasons to act that cannot be accounted for by subjective ethical theories.
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Furthermore, it attempts to present a moral theory that combines three traditional approaches in moral and political philosophy: Kantian deontology , consequentialism , and contractarianism of the sort advocated by T. Parfit labels his synthesis of these three ethical theories the "Triple Theory": . On Parfit's view, these three criteria a represent the best versions of consequentialism, Kantian ethics, and contractarianism respectively, and b should generally agree in their recommendations.
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Both claims have proven controversial. The manuscript, originally titled Climbing the Mountain, circulated for many years prior to publication, and occasioned a great deal of excitement, including reading groups and a conference prior to publication.
As part of that series at Berkeley, Parfit's lectures were responded to by Allen W. Wood , T. Scanlon and Susan Wolf. The economist Tyler Cowen has expressed admiration for Parfit's style "Reading him is an unforgettable and illuminating experience" in On What Matters , but argues:.
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Peter Singer was far more positive, saying that Parfit's arguments "put those who reject objectivism in ethics on the defensive". Constantine Sandis raises an objection to Parfit's project: the various "theories may well converge on their recommendations, but to think that the actions that follow from them are all that matters is to already presuppose the truth of consequentialism". Sandis jokes that the significance of Parfit's work, despite his scant publication record, should cause us to question the " publish or perish " demands of the Research Excellence Framework , but "whether it will change the way we think about morality remains to be seen".
The sheer length of time Parfit took to write the text, and the increasing incompatibility of such extended work with the demands of academic life was raised by Nigel Thrift , vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick , in a blog post on the Chronicle of Higher Education website:.
All is swept into a corner by the great broom of utilitarian reasoning, to be left there in a heap of dust". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. University of Notre Dame. Times Higher Education Supplement. The New Republic.