A new argument against rule consequentialism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (3):247 - 261 (2008)
We best understand Rule Consequentialism as a theory of pattern-based reasons, since it claims that we have reasons to perform some action because of the goodness of the pattern consisting of widespread performance of the same type of action in the same type of circumstances. Plausible forms of Rule Consequentialism are also pluralist, in the sense that, alongside pattern-based reasons, they recognise ordinary act-based reasons, based on the goodness of individual actions. However, Rule Consequentialist theories are distinguished from other pluralist theories of pattern-based reasons by implausible claims about the relative importance of act-based and pattern-based reasons in different cases. Rule Consequentialists should give up these claims. They should either embrace some other pluralist pattern-based view, or reject pattern-based reasons altogether. Note, though, that these arguments apply only to compliance-based, rather than acceptance-based, versions of Rule Consequentialism. This suggests that these two kinds of theory are more different from each other than we might previously have realised.
Keywords Act Consequentialism  Rule Consequentialism  Reasons  Rightness  Act-based reasons  Pattern-based reasons  Pluralism  Hooker
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DOI 10.2307/40284239
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Christopher Woodard (2009). Pedro's Significance. Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (3):301-319.
Christopher Woodard (2011). Rationality and the Unit of Action. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (2):261-277.

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