Friday, January 11, 2008

Railton on Moral Political Demands

By altering social and political arrangements we can lessen the disruptiveness of moral demands on our lives, and in the long run achieve better results than freelance good-doing. A consequentialist theory is therefore likely to recommend that accepting negative responsibility [i.e. for all the harms we let happen] is more a matter of supporting certain social and political arrangements (or rearrangements) than of setting out individually to save the world. Moreover, it is clear that such social and political changes cannot be made unless the lives of individuals are psychologically supportable in the meanwhile, and this provides substantial reason for rejecting the notion that we should abandon all that matters to us as individuals and devote ourselves solely to net social welfare. Finally, in many cases what matters most is perceived rather than actual demandingness or disruptiveness, and this will be a relative matter, depending upon normal expectations. If certain social or political arrangements encourage higher contribution as a matter of course, individuals may not sense these moral demands as excessively intrusive.

-- Railton, 'Alienation' (in Facts, Values and Norms), p.172.

I couldn't agree more: cf. Ego-Depletion and Moral Demands and Value, Alienation and Choice.

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