The attractiveness of consequentialism lies in its intuitive appeal: how natural it is to examine and assess acts in terms of their demonstrated outcomes or to weigh possible courses of action according to their anticipated effects. Kantianism leaves plenty of room for the judgements of ‘moral anthropology’, that is, for engagements with the roundedness of human behaviour that are inevitably less systematic than the precepts of pure reason would like. Virtuism draws repeated attention to the indeterminacy of the moral field, the matters of judgement and fallibility that the calculus of utilitarians and the moral imperatives of Kantians risk ignoring. These three moral philosophies offer indispensable insights into ethics while there remain genuine incommensurabilities between them. It is necessary to apply consequentialism, contractualism and virtuism to reflect on applied ethics, but the latter also allows us to reflect further on each of the former.
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