The Zimmerman-Graham Debate on Objectivism versus Prospectivism

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
Author: Holly M. Smith1
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In Living with Uncertainty Michael Zimmerman argues against the Objective view and for the Prospective view of morality. He claims that the conscientious agent would always choose the act that maximizes projected value, and that this is incompatible with Objectivism. Peter Graham defends Objectivism against Zimmerman’s attack. He argues that a conscientious agent must balance fulfilling obligations against avoiding the worst wrong-doings, and that this stance is consistent with Objectivism and with the agent’s choosing an act she believes to be Objectively wrong. In Ignorance and Moral Obligation Zimmerman argues that Graham’s “Objectivism” is only terminologically distinct from his Prospectivism. I argue that Graham faces a dilemma: if his theory delivers different prescriptions from Zimmerman’s, those prescriptions are implausible. On the other hand, if his theory avoids such implausible recommendations, it now generates exactly the same recommendations as Zimmerman’s theory, and so does not constitute a serious challenge to it.

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