The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 561–565 | Cite as

Thomas Scanlon, Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame

Harvard University Press, 2008, 246 pp., $25.60 (hbk), ISBN 9780674031784
  • Kevin Vallier
Book Review

In Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame, Thomas Scanlon challenges moral philosophers with a subtle analysis of how permissibility, meaning and blame are to be understood. Scanlon’s challenge is significant not only because he is a moral philosopher of considerable stature but because his analysis proceeds with an unusual degree of care. Scanlon employs a number of novel distinctions that allow him to advance attractive alternatives to standard accounts of permissibility, meaning and blame. While the book is not an elaboration and defense of a moral theory, like Scanlon’s well-known What We Owe to Each Other, Moral Dimensions is still a substantial contribution to moral philosophy.

In Chapter 1, “The Illusory Appeal of Double Effect”, Scanlon argues that the Doctrine of Double Effect while intuitive confuses assessing an agent’s reasons for action and the permissibility of her action; he also claims that the doctrine runs together the “critical” and “deliberative” use of...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TucsonUSA

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