Keywordsthe separateness of persons, consequentialism, intrapersonal and interpersonal compensation, utilitarianism
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AbstractThis thesis is concerned with how we might interpret the famous complaint that, (S) consequentialism fails to take seriously the distinction between persons. Chapter One introduces the Compensation View. On this view, (S) amounts to the claim that consequentialist moral conceptions, such as utilitarianism, fail to respect the fact of what I call the disunity of the group: an individual is not compensated for a burden that they undergo by another's receipt of a greater benefit. I explain the origins of the compensation view in Rawls' A Theory of Justice, and how the separateness of persons objection, (S), relates to the puzzle, leftover from Mill, of why utilitarians believe that individuals would, in any case, be motivated to pursue 'aggregate welfare' given that 'aggregate welfare' is not a good with which any individual can engage. Chapter Two describes how philosophers such as Rawls and Nozick attribute to the utilitarian interpretations of 'aggregate welfare' that answer both the questions of: (i) why utilitarians believe that individuals would be motivated to pursue aggregate welfare; and (ii) why the disunity of the group (the 'separateness of persons') may be overlooked in doing so. The attribution of these interpretations of 'aggregate welfare' to the utilitarian, however, provides these answers in a way that undermines rather than supports the utilitarian. Chapter Three explains how utilitarians can distance themselves from these unattractive explanations of their view, given in the previous chapter, in favour of view about personal identity which does the same work of providing answers to questions (i) and (ii). Furthermore, it does this in a way that undermines the notion that the compensation view is the correct way to understand (S). In light of this response, I offer some inchoate remarks on an alternative interpretation of (S), which I call the Rationality View.