The authority account of prudential options



Publication Details

Horton, K. J. (2015). The authority account of prudential options. Southern Journal of Philosophy, 53 (1), 17-35. Southern Journal of Philosophy


The Authority Account provides a new explanation why commonsense morality contains prudential options - options that permit agents to perform actions that promote their own wellbeing more than the action they have most reason to do, from the moral point of view. At the core of that explanation are two claims. The first is that moral requirements are traditionally widely taken to have an authoritative status; that is, to be rules that morality (or more specifically some suitable agent or agency, acting on behalf of morality) imposes by right. The second is that in order for moral requirements to have such a status, morality must contain prudential options. If both of these claims are true, then they will create a (rational) pressure to think of morality as containing prudential options. And according to the Authority Account, the fact that commonsense morality contains such options is (at least in significant part) the result of this pressure.

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