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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L039-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

On the one hand, most of us feel that we are permitted, even required, to give special consideration to the interests of ourselves and our loved ones; on the other hand, we also recognize the appeal of a more detached perspective which demands equal consideration for the interests of all. Among writers in the utilitarian tradition, some insist that the strictly impartial perspective is the only one that is ethically tenable, while others argue that a measure of institutionalized partiality can be justified as a means to maximizing welfare. An alternative tradition, stemming from Kant, sees the demand for impartiality as deriving from the importance of fairness and equal respect for persons, but tends to leave open the degree of partiality permitted. Finally, the Aristotelian conception of ethics offers a justification of partiality based on the structure of those virtuous dispositions of character (such as those involved in friendship and self-esteem) which are required for developing our distinctively human potentialities.

Citing this article:
Cottingham, John. Impartiality, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L039-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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