The true function of the generalization argument

Inquiry 13 (1-4):274 – 288 (1970)
An examination of its employment in ethical disputes reveals that the generalization argument (the question, 'What if everyone did x?') is not based upon utilitarian calculation and that its effectiveness depends upon the existence of institutions contrary to the ones it hypothesizes. The basis of moral valuation, therefore, remains in the actual institutions presupposed by the generalization argument rather than in the argument itself which is used exclusively against persons whose acts violate current institutional rules. It seeks to discourage such acts by showing the un-desirability of institutions under which such acts would be permissible
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DOI 10.1080/00201747008601594
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