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I know normative ethics is traditionally divided into 3 main branches: deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics. However, it seems to me that although they are most often presented as mutually exclusive normative theories, they can also be interpreted as partly overlapping, or simply as different languages used to make similar or even identical prescriptions. Are there any philosophers who defend this more "compatibilistic" view? Is there any name for this view? Are there any resources on this?

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  • Perhaps others can correct me, but I would say that deontic and consequentialist views are incompatible arguments by definition, though consequences are never really erased from the picture, even in Kant. Virtue ethics, as argued by MacIntyre, say, could be seen as a combination of the two in a historicist framework. One has absolute duties, but within a pragmatic social context. In practice, they generally do all overlap and I'd guess there are many attempts to formalize such an approach. Nov 8 '20 at 16:15
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    @NelsonAlexander I think "rule utilitarianism" is very much compatible with deontic ethics. When Kant says "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law", he avoids the question: "why do I will that some maxims should become universal laws but not others?". Rule utilitarianism provides an answer to that.
    – Ariel
    Nov 8 '20 at 16:43
  • Not familiar with that, but will check it out when time permits. Any particular authors? Nov 8 '20 at 17:43
  • It is not particularly surprising that theories produce similar prescriptions, people tend to agree on concrete actions in ordinary circumstances much more than on principles. It is extreme circumstances that bring out the principles. Probably the most prominent defender of an "ecumenical" view is Parfit in his monumental On What Matters. But, as Sandis remarked, "theories may well converge on their recommendations, but to think that the actions that follow from them are all that matters is to already presuppose the truth of consequentialism".
    – Conifold
    Nov 9 '20 at 6:04

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