What's Wrong with 'Deontology'?

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The way we use terminology matters. There are words, ordinary and philosophical, that we should do without because they are ill-defined, ambiguous or confused. If we use them we will at best be saying little. At worst, they will make us ask the wrong questions and leave the right ones unasked. In this paper, I argue that 'deontology' is such a word. It is defined negatively as non-teleological or non-consequentialist, and therefore does not designate a distinct class of moral theories, let alone a single one. Moreover, the question whether Kantian ethics is 'deontological' is likely to obscure what is distinctive and interesting about it. The word 'deontology' should be banished from the classroom. It may be best to abandon it altogether.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalProceedings of the Aristotelian Society
Issue number1 pt 1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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