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What matters and how it matters: a choice-theoretic representation of moral theories

Dietrich, Franz and List, Christian ORCID: 0000-0003-1627-800X (2017) What matters and how it matters: a choice-theoretic representation of moral theories. Philosophical Review, 126 (4). pp. 421-479. ISSN 0031-8108

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Identification Number: 10.1215/00318108-4173412


We present a new “reason-based” approach to the formal representation of moral theories, drawing on recent decision-theoretic work. We show that any moral theory within a very large class can be represented in terms of two parameters: (i) a specification of which properties of the objects of moral choice matter in any given context, and (ii) a specification of how these properties matter. Reasonbased representations provide a very general taxonomy of moral theories, as di↵erences among theories can be attributed to di↵erences in their two key parameters. We can thus formalize several distinctions, such as between consequentialist and non-consequentialist theories, between universalist and relativist theories, between agent-neutral and agent-relative theories, between monistic and pluralistic theories, between atomistic and holistic theories, and between theories with a teleological structure and those without. Reason-based representations also shed light on an important but under-appreciated phenomenon: the “underdetermination of moral theory by deontic content”

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2017 Cornell University
Divisions: Government
Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
Date Deposited: 03 May 2017 16:34
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2024 23:39

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