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The problem, more specifically,is that itdefines deontology in terms of values that are notdistinctivelydeontological, though they may appear to be from the inside.Consider the following analogy with religion. When one asks a religious person to explain the essence of his religion, one often gets an answer like this: "It's about love, really. It's about looking out for other people, looking beyond oneself. It's about community, being part of something larger than oneself."This sort of answer accurately captures the phenomenology of many people's religion, but it's nevertheless inadequate for distinguishing religion from other things. This is because many, if not most, non-religious people aspire to love deeply, look out for other people, avoid self-absorption, have a sense of a community, and be connected to things larger than themselves. In other words, secular humanists and atheists can assent to most of what many religious people think religion is all about. From a secular humanist's point of view, in contrast, what's distinctive about religion is its commitment to the existence of supernatural entities as well as formal religious institutions and doctrines. And they're right. These things really do distinguish religious from non-religious practices, though they may appear to be secondary to many people operating from within a religious point of view.In the same way, I believe that most ofthe standarddeontological/Kantian self-characterizatonsfail to distinguish deontology from other approaches to ethics. (See also Kagan (Kagan, 1997, pp. 70-78.) on the difficulty of defining deontology.) It seems to me thatconsequentialists, as much as anyone else,haverespect forpersons,areagainst treating people asmereobjects,wishto act for reasons that rational creatures can share, etc.A consequentialist respects other persons, and refrains from treating them as mere objects,bycounting every person's well-beingin the decision-making process.Likewise, aconsequentialistattempts to act according to reasons that rational creatures can share by acting according toprinciplesthatgive equal weight to everyone's interests, i.e. that are impartial. This is not to say that consequentialists and deontologists don't differ. They do. It's just that the real differences may not be what deontologists often take them to be.
What, then, distinguishes deontology from other kinds of moral thought? A good strategy for answering this question is to start with concrete disagreements between deontologists and others (such as consequentialists) and then work backward in search of deeper principles. This is what I've attempted to do with the trolley and footbridge cases, and other instances in which deontologists and consequentialists disagree.