A dilemma for rule-consequentialism

Philosophia 36 (1):141-150 (2008)
Abstract
Rule-consequentialists tend to argue for their normative theory by claiming that their view matches our moral convictions just as well as a pluralist set of Rossian duties. As an additional advantage, rule-consequentialism offers a unifying justification for these duties. I challenge the first part of the rule-consequentialist argument and show that Rossian duties match our moral convictions better than the rule-consequentialist principles. I ask the rule-consequentialists a simple question. In the case that circumstances change, is the wrongness of acts determined by the ideal principles for the earlier circumstances or by the ideal ones for the new circumstances? I argue that whichever answer the rule-consequentialists give the view leads to normative conclusions that conflict with our moral intuitions. Because some set of Rossian duties can avoid similar problems, rule-consequentialism fails in the reflective equilibrium test advocated by the rule-consequentialists.
Keywords Rule-consequentialism  Rossian pluralism  Reflective equilibrium test
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