Edited by Douglas W. Portmore (Arizona State University)
|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.|
Utilitarianism* (697 | 578)
Agent-Neutral and Agent-Relative Consequentialism
Act- and Rule-Consequentalism
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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