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Summary The defining feature of consequentialism is that it ranks outcomes (the outcomes associated with acts, sets of rules, sets of motives, or something else) and then takes the normative statuses of actions to be some (increasing) function of how those outcomes rank. Little else can be said unequivocally about consequentialism, as consequentialists disagree about most everything else. Consequentialists disagree on whether we should assess the normative statuses of actions directly in terms of how their outcomes rank (act-consequentialism) or indirectly in terms of whether, say, they comply with the code of rules with the highest-ranked associated outcome (rule-consequentialism, motive-consequentialism, etc.). They disagree on whether the relevant function is a maximizing one (maximizing consequentialism) or a satisficing one (satisficing consequentialism). And they disagree on whether there is just one ranking of outcomes that is the same for all agents (agent-neutral consequentialism) or potentially different rankings for each agent (agent-relative consequentialism). As most see it, consequentialism is a theory about the permissibility of actions, but some hold instead that it is a theory about only the comparative moral value of actions (scalar consequentialism). And whereas some hold that consequentialism is committed to ranking outcomes in terms of their impersonal value, others deny this. Even those who agree that outcomes are to be ranked in terms of their impersonal value disagree about whether outcomes are to be ranked in terms of their actual value (objective consequentialism) or their expected value (subjective consequentialism).
Key works See the summaries for each of the sub-categories for suggestions that are specific to the varieties of consequentialism that you are interested in.
Introductions Two good introductions to the many varieties of consequentialism are Portmore 2011 and Brink 2005.
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  1. Per Algander (2015). Variabilism Is Not the Solution to the Asymmetry. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):1-9.
    According to “the asymmetry”, the fact that a future person would have a life not worth living counts against bringing that person into existence but the fact that a future person would have a life worth living does not count in favour of bringing that person into existence. While this asymmetry seems intuitive, it is also puzzling: if we think that it is of moral importance to prevent people from living lives not worth living, shouldn't we also that it is (...)
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  2. R. Audi (2001). Brad Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World. Utilitas 13 (3):357-359.
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  3. Iep Author, Utilitarianism, Act and Rule.
    Act and Rule Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. Like other forms of consequentialism, its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their effects. More specifically, the only effects of actions that are relevant are the good and bad results that they […].
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  4. Manel Baucells & Rakesh K. Sarin (2007). Evaluating Time Streams of Income: Discounting What? [REVIEW] Theory and Decision 63 (2):95-120.
    For decisions whose consequences accrue over time, there are several possible techniques to compute total utility. One is to discount utilities of future consequences at some appropriate rate. The second is to discount per-period certainty equivalents. And the third is to compute net present values (NPVs) of various possible streams and to then apply the utility function to these net present values. We find that the best approach is to first compute NPVs of various possible income streams and then take (...)
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  5. Yitzhak Benbaji (2005). The Doctrine of Sufficiency: A Defence. Utilitas 17 (3):310-332.
    This article proposes an analysis of the doctrine of sufficiency. According to my reading, the doctrine's basic positive claim is ‘prioritarian’: benefiting x is of special moral importance where (and only where) x is badly off. Its negative claim is anti-egalitarian: most comparative facts expressed by statements of the type ‘x is worse off than y’ have no moral significance at all. This contradicts the ‘classical’ priority view according to which, although equality per se does not matter, whenever x is (...)
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  6. Jeffrey Brand (2013). Beyond Consequentialism. Philosophical Review 122 (4):657-661.
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  7. Stephen Buckle (2006). Consequentialism and Utilitarianism: Form and Content in Recent Moral Theory. Ethics Education 12 (2).
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  8. L. Burkholder (1975). Rule-Utilitarianism and "Two Concepts of Rules". Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 56 (2):195.
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  9. Erik Carlson (2001). Review of Brad Hooker: Ideal Code, Real World. [REVIEW] Theoria 67 (3):268-272.
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  10. E. Castagnoli & M. Li Calzi (1996). Expected Utility Without Utility. Theory and Decision 41 (3):281-301.
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  11. Tim Chappell (2002). The Demands of Consequentialism. Mind 111 (444):891-897.
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  12. Francis C. Chu & Joseph Y. Halpern (2008). Great Expectations. Part I: On the Customizability of Generalized Expected Utility. [REVIEW] Theory and Decision 64 (1):1-36.
    We propose a generalization of expected utility that we call generalized EU (GEU), where a decision maker’s beliefs are represented by plausibility measures and the decision maker’s tastes are represented by general (i.e., not necessarily real-valued) utility functions. We show that every agent, “rational” or not, can be modeled as a GEU maximizer. We then show that we can customize GEU by selectively imposing just the constraints we want. In particular, we show how each of Savage’s postulates corresponds to constraints (...)
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  13. Philip Clark (2002). The Meaning of 'Good' and the Possibility of Value. Philosophical Studies 108 (1-2):31 - 38.
    Moore held that to call something good is to ascribe a property to it. But he denied that the property could be expressed in non-evaluative terms. Can one accept this view of the meaning of good without falling into skepticism about whether anything can be, or be known to be, good? I suggest a way of doing this. The strategy combines the idea that good is semantically entangled, as opposed to semantically isolated, with the idea that rational agents have a (...)
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  14. Roger Crisp (1988). Ideal Utilitarianism: Theory and Practice. Dissertation, University of Oxford (United Kingdom)
    Available from UMI in association with The British Library. Requires signed TDF. ;The thesis consists in the development and application of an ideal utilitarian moral theory. ;In chapter one, classical Mental State and modern Desire theories of prudential value are rejected. In chapter two, perfectionism is rejected and an alternative ideal utilitarian Objective List theory is set out. In chapter three, it is argued that prudential rationality requires maximization and temporal neutrality. The aggregation and incommensurability of values is discussed. In (...)
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  15. G. Cullity, Roger Crisp and Brad Hooker (Eds.), Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin.
    Book Information Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin. Edited by Roger Crisp and Brad Hooker. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 2000. Pp. xii + 316. Hardback, £35.
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  16. Richard Dawkins (1999). 14 God's Utility Function. In Eleonore Stump & Michael J. Murray (eds.), Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions. Blackwell Publishers. 6--109.
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  17. Eric B. Dayton (1979). Course of Action Utilitarianism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (4):671 - 684.
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  18. B. J. Diggs (1964). Rules and Utilitarianism. American Philosophical Quarterly 1 (1):32 - 44.
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  19. Tom Dougherty (2013). Agent-Neutral Deontology. Philosophical Studies 163 (2):527-537.
    According to the “Textbook View,” there is an extensional dispute between consequentialists and deontologists, in virtue of the fact that only the latter defend “agent-relative” principles—principles that require an agent to have a special concern with making sure that she does not perform certain types of action. I argue that, contra the Textbook View, there are agent-neutral versions of deontology. I also argue that there need be no extensional disagreement between the deontologist and consequentialist, as characterized by the Textbook View.
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  20. A. J. Ellis, J. J. C. Smart, B. Williams & Anthony Quinton (1974). Utilitarianism: For and Against.Utilitarian Ethics. Philosophical Quarterly 24 (96):279.
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  21. J. D. G. Evans (1998). Cummiskey, D.-Kantian Consequentialism. Philosophical Books 39:128-129.
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  22. Fred Feldman (2001). Can an Act-Consequentialist Theory Be Agent Relative? DOUGLAS W. PORTMORE. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (2).
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  23. Fernanda Ferreira, Paul E. Engelhardt & Manon W. Jones (2009). Good Enough Language Processing: A Satisficing Approach. In N. A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. 413--418.
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  24. R. Frey (1986). Michael Slote, Common-Sense Morality and Consequentialism. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 6:247-249.
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  25. R. G. Frey (1986). Michael Slote, Common-Sense Morality and Consequentialism Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 6 (5):247-249.
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  26. R. G. Frey (1985). Schetller, S., "The Rejection of Consequentialism". [REVIEW] Mind 94:146.
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  27. Pedro Galvão (2004). Review of Ideal Code, Real World. [REVIEW] Disputatio 1:79-84.
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  28. Vasil Gluchman (1996). The Ethics of Utilitarianism and Non-Utilitarian Consequentialism. Filosoficky Casopis 44 (1):123-132.
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  29. Marta Gluchmanova (2008). Non-Utilitarian Consequentialism and its Application in the Ethics of Teaching. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 37:67-75.
    This paper aims to present of the ethics of social consequences (a form of non-utilitarian consequentialism) as a theoretical basis for the examination of teacher ethics and a tool for dealing with practical moral problems of the teaching profession. Teachers’ duty is to help students, teach them to recognize the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, show them that they have moral responsibility for their actions and all this can be very well attained on the basis of the (...)
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  30. Daniel G. Goldstein & Gerd Gigerenzer (1996). Satisficing Inference and the Perks of Ignorance. In Garrison W. Cottrell (ed.), Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Lawrence Erlbaum. 137--141.
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  31. Axel Gosseries (2002). The Demands of Consequentialism. European Journal of Philosophy 10 (2):251-254.
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  32. G. R. Grice & Richard Norman (1972). Reasons for Actions: A Critique of Utilitarian Rationality. Philosophical Quarterly 22 (89):377.
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  33. M. Hajdin (2007). Joseph Mendola, Goodness and Justice: A Consequentialist Moral Theory. Philosophy in Review 27 (3):204.
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  34. Mane Hajdin (2010). Joseph Mendola, Goodness and Justice: A Consequentialist Moral Theory Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 27 (3):204-206.
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  35. Sven Ove Hansson (2014). The Moral Oracle's Test. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (4):643-651.
    When presented with a situation involving an agent’s choice between alternative actions, a moral oracle says what the agent is allowed to do. The oracle bases her advice on some moral theory, but the nature of that theory is not known by us. The moral oracle’s test consists in determining whether a series of questions to the oracle can be so constructed that her answers will reveal which of two given types of theories she adheres to. The test can be (...)
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  36. Edmund Henden (2007). Is Genuine Satisficing Rational? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (4):339 - 352.
    There have been different interpretations of satisficing rationality. A common view is that it is sometimes rationally permitted to choose an option one judges is good enough even when one does not know that it is the best option. But there is available a more radical view of satisficing. On this view, it is rationally permitted to choose an option one judges is good enough even when a better option is known to be available. In this paper I distinguish between (...)
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  37. Brad Hooker (2008). Rule-Consequentialism and Its Virtues. Rivista di Filosofia 99 (3):491-510.
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  38. Brad Hooker, Elinor Mason & Dale Miller (eds.) (2000). Morality, Rules and Consequences: A Critical Reader. Edinburgh University Press.
    What determines whether an action is right or wrong? Morality, Rules, and Consequences: A Critical Reader explores for students and researchers the relationship between consequentialist theory and moral rules. Most of the chapters focus on rule consequentialism or on the distinction between act and rule versions of consequentialism. Contributors, among them the leading philosophers in the discipline, suggest ways of assessing whether rule consequentialism could be a satisfactory moral theory. These essays, all of which are previously unpublished, provide students in (...)
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  39. Thomas Hurka (1990). Two Kinds of Satisficing. Philosophical Studies 59 (1):107 - 111.
    Michael Slote has defended a moral view that he calls "satisficing consequentialism." Less demanding than maximizing consequentialism, it requires only that agents bring about consequences that are "good enough." I argue that Slote's characterization of satisficing is ambiguous. His idea of consequences' being "good enough" admits of two interpretations, with different implications in (some) particular cases. One interpretation I call "absolute-level" satisficing, the other "comparative" satisficing. Once distinguished, these versions of satisficing appear in a very different light. Absolute-level satisficing is (...)
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  40. Wild Justice (1995). Minimal Consequentialism, Peter Caws. Philosophy 70 (3).
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  41. Whitley R. P. Kaufman (1998). The Lion's Den, Othello, and the Limits of Consequentialism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 37 (4):539-557.
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  42. Jason Kawall (2002). Thomas L. Carson, Value and the Good Life. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 22:260-262.
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  43. Seahwa Kim, Cei Maslen & Counterfactuals as Short (2006). Elisabeth Camp/Metaphor and That Certain Ôje Ne Sais Quoi'1–25 Juan Comesana/a Well–Founded Solution to the Generality Problem 27–47 Fred Feldman/Actual Utility, the Objection From Impracticality, and the Move to Expected Utility 49–79. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 129:667-669.
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  44. Kevin C. Klement, Agency, Character and the Real Failure of Consequentialism.
    Certain consequentialists have responded to deontological worries regarding personal projects or options and agent-centered restrictions or constraints by pointing out that it is consistent with consequentialist principles that people develop within themselves, dispositions to act with such things in mind, even if doing so does not lead to the best consequences on every occasion. This paper argues that making this response requires shifting the focus of moral evaluation off of evaluation of individual actions and towards evaluation of whole character traits (...)
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  45. Rahul Kumar (2002). Review of Tim Mulgan, The Demands of Consequentialism. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (8).
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  46. Joseph Kupfer (1974). Universalization in Berkeley's Rule-Utilitarianism. Revue Internationale de Philosophie 28 (110):511.
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  47. Jacqueline A. Laing (1997). Innocence and Consequentialism. In David S. Oderberg & Jacqueline A. Laing (eds.), Human Lives: Critical Essays on Consequentialist Bioethics. Macmillan. 196--224.
    A critic of utilitarianism, in a paper entitled “Innocence and Consequentialism” Laing argues that Singer cannot without contradicting himself reject baby farming (a thought experiment that involves mass-producing deliberately brain damaged children for live birth for the greater good of organ harvesting) and at the same time hold on to his “personism” a term coined by Jenny Teichman to describe his fluctuating (and Laing says, discriminatory) theory of human moral value. His explanation that baby farming undermines attitudes of care and (...)
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  48. J. Lenman (2003). HOOKER, B.-Ideal Code, Real World. Philosophical Books 44 (2):181-182.
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  49. Isaac Lev (2002). Maximizing and Satisficing Evidential Support. In David B. Malament (ed.), Reading Natural Philosophy: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics. Open Court. 315.
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  50. Hallvard Lillehammer (2011). Consequentialism and Global Ethics. In Michael Boylan (ed.), The Morality and Global Justice Reader. Westview Press. 89.
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