Rule Consequentialism and Scope

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):631-646 (2012)
Rule consequentialism (RC) holds that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined by an ideal moral code, i.e., the set of rules whose internalization would have the best consequences. But just how many moral codes are there supposed to be? Absolute RC holds that there is a single morally ideal code for everyone, while Relative RC holds that there are different codes for different groups or individuals. I argue that Relative RC better meets the test of reflective equilibrium than Absolute RC. In particular, I contend that Relative RC is superior because it accommodates our convictions about costless benefits. Some have charged that Relative RC threatens our convictions about the generality of moral codes and that it leads inevitably to what Brad Hooker calls “runaway relativism.” I argue that Relative RC has principled reasons for stopping this imagined slide down the slippery slope
Keywords Ethics  Consequentialism  Rule  Absolutism  Relativism  Reflective equilibrium  Parfit  Hooker  Brandt  Singer
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-012-9357-4
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John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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