© 1986

Doing the Best We Can

An Essay in Informal Deontic Logic


Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 35)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Absolute Moral Obligation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Fred Feldman
      Pages 3-15
    3. Fred Feldman
      Pages 16-44
    4. Fred Feldman
      Pages 45-69
  3. Iffy Oughts

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 71-71
    2. Fred Feldman
      Pages 73-98
    3. Fred Feldman
      Pages 99-126
  4. Extensions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 145-145
    2. Fred Feldman
      Pages 147-178
    3. Fred Feldman
      Pages 179-196
    4. Fred Feldman
      Pages 197-215
    5. Fred Feldman
      Pages 216-225
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 227-246

About this book


Several years ago I came across a marvelous little paper in which Hector-Neri Castaneda shows that standard versions of act utilitarian­ l ism are formally incoherent. I was intrigued by his argument. It had long seemed to me that I had a firm grasp on act utilitarianism. Indeed, it had often seemed to me that it was the clearest and most attractive of normative theories. Yet here was a simple and relatively uncontrover­ sial argument that showed, with only some trivial assumptions, that the doctrine is virtually unintelligible. The gist of Castaneda's argument is this: suppose we understand act utilitarianism to be the view that an act is obligatory if and only if its utility exceeds that of each alternative. Suppose it is obligatory for a certain person to perform an act with two parts - we can call it 'A & B'. Then, obviously enough, it is also obligatory for this person to perform the parts, A and B. If act utilitarianism were true, we appar­ ently could infer that the utility of A & B is higher than that of A, and higher than that of B (because A & B is obligatory, and the other acts are alternatives to A & B).


Immanuel Kant Indian Utilitarianism access accessibility concept deontic logic individual morality perfect project projects subject tradition truth

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Doing the Best We Can
  • Book Subtitle An Essay in Informal Deontic Logic
  • Authors Fred Feldman
  • Series Title Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 1986
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-90-277-2164-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-010-8531-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-009-4570-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIV, 246
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Ethics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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