Hare on utilitarianism and intuitive morality

Erkenntnis 39 (3):305 - 331 (1993)
Abstract
InMoral Thinking R. M. Hare offers a very influential defense of utilitarianism against intuitive objections. Hare's argument is roughly that utilitarianism conflicts with defensible moral intuitions only in unusual cases and that, in such cases, even defensible moral intuitions are unreliable. This paper reconstructs Hare's arguments and argues that they presuppose the success of his problematic proof of utilitarianism. Contrary to what many have thought, Hare's negative defense of utilitarianism against intuitive objections is not separable from his proof. In the second part of the paper I argue that Hare does not succeed in defending utilitarianism against the objection that it is too demanding. The final section of the paper sketches a substantially revised version of Hare's reply to intuitive objections. So revised, the argument is independent of Hare's proof and affords a plausible answer to the objection that utilitarianism is too demanding.
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