A critique of some recent victim-centered theories of nonconsequentialism

S. Matthew Liao*, Christian Barry

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Recently, Gerhard Øverland and Alec Walen have developed novel and interesting theories of nonconsequentialism. Unlike other nonconsequentialist theories such as the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE), each of their theories denies that an agent’s mental states are (fundamentally) relevant for determining how stringent their moral reasons are against harming others. Instead, Øverland and Walen seek to distinguish morally between instances of harming in terms of the circumstances of the people who will be harmed, rather than in features of the agent doing the harming. In this paper, we argue that these theories yield counterintuitive verdicts across a broad range of cases that other nonconsequentialist theories (including the DDE) handle with relative ease. We also argue that Walen’s recent attempt to reformulate this type of theory so that it does not have such implications is unsuccessful.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)503-526
    Number of pages24
    JournalLaw and Philosophy
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


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