Pre-reflexively, I find myself of the intuition that many matters in life simply fall outside the scope of moral concern, even if we can subject them to moral reasoning. For example, there doesn't seem to be any moral question to be had about the simple act of buying a cup of coffee in the morning, even if that money spent could've been donated to charity instead. On reflection of the particulars, some moral considerations might come to bear on that purchase or on a habit of purchases, but, ceteris paribus, morality just doesn't seem to bear on the mere act of buying coffee. Even describing the act as "morally permissible" sounds a little strange, as if permission were needed in the first place. Moral reasoning seems simply out of place here. My sense is that while some normative ethical theories (e.g., Kantianism) are relatively hospitable to this intuition, utilitarianism cannot be, at least in its traditional forms. After all, the utilitarian calculus can easily be applied to just about any human action, even the mere act of buying coffee, and given utilitarianism's emphasis on outcomes and consequences, there seems to be no principled reason, internal to utilitarianism, not to apply that calculus to the universe of human activity. Of course, there are actions so trivial that the utilitarian, being utilitarian, would find them unworthy subjects for moral reasoning. Moreover, the utilitarian may reason that it would be morally for the best not to subject too many human actions to moral reasoning, which sounds sensible enough--but he can only reach this conclusion after applying the utilitarian calculus to his moral reasoning, which would require him to compare the consequences of applying the utilitarian calculus to the universe of human activity against the consequences of applying that calculus only to some circumscribed spheres of human activity. Thus, it would appear that, for the utilitarian, just about all human actions actually are moral matters, even if, thank heavens, some human actions can be properly ignored. I was wondering, however, if there might be more to be said on the utilitarian's behalf. Are there other ways in which utilitarianism can be reconciled with the intuition I've described above? Has much been said in philosophy on the scope of morality and the dividing line between moral and nonmoral matters, and how questions of scope come to bear on different normative ethical theories?

You ask an excellent question and I'm sympathetic to your point. Since this isn't my field, I don't have much to offer by way of readings, but there's a paper from some years ago by my former colleague Susan Wolf that might be at least somewhat relevant. It's called "Moral Saints." It's in The Journal of Philosophy vol. 79 no. 8, August 1982, pp. 419--439. Her worry is not the same as yours, but it's closely related.

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