A critic of utilitarianism, in a paper entitled “Innocence and Consequentialism” Laing argues that Singer cannot without contradicting himself reject baby farming (a thought experiment that involves mass-producing deliberately brain damaged children for live birth for the greater good of organ harvesting) and at the same time hold on to his “personism” a term coined by Jenny Teichman to describe his fluctuating (and Laing says, discriminatory) theory of human moral value. His explanation that baby farming undermines attitudes of care (...) and concern for the very young, can be applied to babies and the unborn (non-persons on his view) and contradicts positions that he adopts elsewhere in his work. (shrink)
The standard form of act-consequentialism requires us to perform the action with the best consequences; it allows choice between moral options only on those rare occasions when several actions produce equally good results. This paper argues for moral options and thus against act-consequentialism. The argument turns on the insight that some valuable things cannot exist unless our moral system allows options. One such thing is the opportunity for individuals to enact plans for their life from among alternatives. Because (...) planning one’s life has value, and because it requires moral options, a world governed by a moral system that admits of options is better than one governed by act-consequentialism. The paper argues that these facts entail that morality admits of a significant number of moral options; act-consequentialism is false. (shrink)
I argue that we should reject all traditional forms of act-consequentialism if moral rationalism is true. (Moral rationalism, as I define it, holds that if S is morally required to perform x, then S has decisive reason, all things considered, to perform x.) I argue that moral rationalism in conjunction with a certain conception of practical reasons (viz., the teleological conception of reasons) compels us to accept act-consequentialism. I give a presumptive argument in favor of moral rationalism. And (...) I argue that act-consequentialism is best construed as a theory that ranks outcomes, not according to their impersonal value, but according to how much reason each agent has to desire that they obtain. (shrink)
The central problem for normative ethics is the conflict between a consequentialist view--that morality requires promoting the good of all--and a belief that the rights of the individual place significant constraints on what may be done to help others. Standard interpretations see Kant as rejecting all forms of consequentialism, and defending a theory which is fundamentally duty-based and agent-centered. Certain actions, like sacrificing the innocent, are categorically forbidden. In this original and controversial work, Cummiskey argues that there is no (...) defensible basis for this view, that Kant's own arguments actually entail a consequentialist conclusion. But this new form of consequentialism which follows from Kant's theories has a distinctly Kantian tone. The capacity of rational action is prior to the value of happiness; thus providing justification for the view that rational nature is more important than mere pleasures and pains. (shrink)
In contemporary philosophy, substantive moral theories are typically classified as either consequentialist or deontological. Standard consequentialist theories insist, roughly, that agents must always act so as to produce the best available outcomes overall. Standard deontological theories, by contrast, maintain that there are some circumstances where one is permitted but not required to produce the best overall results, and still other circumstances in which one is positively forbidden to to do. Classical utilitarianism is the most familiar consequentialist view, but it is (...) widely regarded as an inadequate account of morality. Although Professor Scheffler agrees with this assessment, he also believes that consequentialism seems initially plausible, and that there is a persistent air of paradox surrounding typical deontological views. In this book, therefore, he undertakes to reconsider the rejection of consequentialism. He argues that it is possible to provide a rationale for the view that agents need not always produce the best possible overall outcomes, and this motivates one departure from consequentialism; but he shows that it is surprisingly difficult to provide a satisfactory rationale for the view that there are times when agents must not produce the best possible overall outcomes. He goes on to argue for a hitherto neglected type of moral conception, according to which agents are always permitted, but not always required, to produce the best outcomes. (shrink)
Tim Mulgan presents a penetrating examination of consequentialism: the theory that human behavior must be judged in terms of the goodness or badness of its consequences. The problem with consequentialism is that it seems unreasonably demanding, leaving us no room for our own aims and interests. In response, Mulgan offers his own, more practical version of consequentialism--one that will surely appeal to philosophers and laypersons alike.
Objective consequentialism is often criticized because it is impossible to know which of our actions will have the best consequences. Why exactly does this undermine objective consequentialism? I offer a new link between the claim that our knowledge of the future is limited and the rejection of objective consequentialism: that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ and we cannot produce the best consequences available to us. I support this apparently paradoxical contention by way of an analogy. I cannot beat Karpov (...) at chess in spite of the fact that I can make each of many series of moves, at least one of which would beat him. I then respond to a series of objections. In the process I develop an account of the ‘can’ of ability. I conclude with some remarks about the bearing this attack has on subjective consequentialism. (shrink)
There are two distinct views on how to formulate an objective consequentialist account of the deontic status of actions, actualism and possibilism. On an actualist account, what matters to the deontic status of actions is only the value of the outcome an action would have, if performed. By contrast, a possibilist account also takes into account the value of the outcomes that an action could have. These two views come apart in their deontic verdicts when an agent is imperfect in (...) an avoidable way, viz., when agent brings about less good than she could. In this paper, I offer an argument against actualism that draws on the connection between moral obligation and practical reasons. (shrink)
This is a book on morality, rationality, and the interconnections between the two. In it, I defend a version of consequentialism that both comports with our commonsense moral intuitions and shares with other consequentialist theories the same compelling teleological conception of practical reasons.
Frank Jackson has put forward a famous thought experiment of a physician who has to decide on the correct treatment for her patient. Subjective consequentialism tells the physician to do what intuitively seems to be the right action, whereas objective consequentialism fails to guide the physician’s action. I suppose that objective consequentialists want to supplement their theory so that it guides the physician’s action towards what intuitively seems to be the right treatment. Since this treatment is wrong according (...) to objective consequentialism, objective consequentialists have to license it without calling it right. I consider eight strategies to spell out the idea of licensing the intuitively right treatment and argue that objective consequentialism is on the horns of what I call the licensing dilemma : Either the physician’s action is not guided towards the intuitively right treatment. Or the guidance towards the intuitively right treatment is ad hoc in some respect or the other. (shrink)
Two meanings of "subjective consequentialism" are distinguished: conscious deliberation with the aim of producing maximally-good consequences, versus acting in ways that, given one's evidence set and reasoning capabilities, is subjectively most likely to maximize expected consequences. The latter is opposed to "objective consequentialism," which demands that we act in ways that actually produce the best total consequences. Peter Railton's arguments for a version of objective consequentialism confuse the two subjective forms, and are only effective against the first. (...) After reviewing the arguments of Eric Wiland and Frances Howard-Snyder against objective consequentialism, two of Railton's arguments which might seem to count against the second form of subjective consequentialism are shown to be ineffective. This leaves subjective consequentialism as a viable theory to replace objective consequentialism with. (shrink)
What are the appropriate criteria for assessing a theory of morality? In this enlightening work, Brad Hooker begins by answering this question. He then argues for a rule-consequentialist theory which, in part, asserts that acts should be assessed morally in terms of impartially justified rules. In the end, he considers the implications of rule-consequentialism for several current controversies in practical ethics, making this clearly written, engaging book the best overall statement of this approach to ethics.
In this paper, I develop, motivate and offer a qualified defense of a version of satisficing consequentialism (SC). I develop the view primarily in light of objections to other versions of SC recently posed by Ben Bradley. I motivate the view by showing that it (1) accommodates the intuitions apparently supporting those objections, (2) is supported by certain ‘common sense’ moral intuitions about specific cases, and (3) captures the central ideas expressed by satisficing consequentialists in the recent literature. Finally, (...) I offer a qualified defense of the view that consists in showing that it meets Bradley’s criteria for being a version of satisficing consequentialism that is ‘worth considering’. Specifically, it is a version of SC that solves certain problems for maximizing consequentialism and yet does not permit the gratuitous prevention of goodness. (shrink)
This is Chapter 5 of my Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality. In this chapter, I argue that those who wish to accommodate typical instances of supererogation and agent-centered options must deny that moral reasons are morally overriding and accept both that the reason that agents have to promote their own self-interest is a non-moral reason and that this reason can, and sometimes does, prevent the moral reason that they have to sacrifice their self-interest so as to do more (...) to promote the interests of others from generating a moral requirement. Furthermore, I argue that given that an act’s deontic status of both moral and non-moral reasons, the consequentialist must adopt dual-ranking act-consequentialism. I then defend dual-ranking act-consequentialism against a number of objections. (shrink)
According to the moral standards most of us accept and live by, morality generally permits us to refrain from promoting the good of others and instead engage in non-harmful projects of our own choice. This aspect of so-called ‘ordinary morality’ has turned out to be very difficult to justify. Recently, though, various authors, including Bernard Williams and Samuel Scheffler, have proposed “Integrity Theories” that would vindicate this aspect of ordinary morality, at least in part. They are generated by treating as (...) a default some moral theory, like consequentialism, that demands that we do a great deal of good. The theory is then modified so as to make room for individuals to pursue the projects they value most deeply, and perhaps their trivial interests as well—i.e., so as to respect individual integrity. This paper presupposes that Integrity Theories are correct and that, for the reasons given by others, they can explain why morality should grant us agent-centered prerogatives to pursue our own projects and interests. The goal is to extend this work in two respects. First, it will be shown that previous authors have not paid sufficient attention to ordinary morality’s conflicting pronouncements about agent-centered prerogatives. Second, it is argued that Integrity Theories can vindicate those conflicting intuitions by positing a special kind of obligations, relievable obligations. (shrink)
Ought Implies Kant defends Kantianism via a critical examination of consequentialism. The latter is shown to be untenable on epistemic grounds; meanwhile, the charge that Kantianism is really consequentialism in disguise is refuted. The book also presents a novel interpretation of Kantianism as according direct duties to other animals.
To consequentialise a moral theory means to account for moral phenomena usually described in nonconsequentialist terms, such as rights, duties, and virtues, in a consequentialist framework. This paper seeks to show that all moral theories can be consequentialised. The paper distinguishes between different interpretations of the consequentialiser’s thesis, and emphasises the need for a cardinal ranking of acts. The paper also offers a new answer as to why consequentialising moral theories is important: This yields crucial methodological insights about how to (...) pursue ethical inquires. (shrink)
An idea that has attracted a lot of attention lately is the thought that consequentialism is a theory characterized basically by its agent neutrality.1 The idea, however, has also met with skepticism. In particular, it has been argued that agent neutrality cannot be what separates consequentialism from other types of theories of reasons for action, since there can be agent-neutral non-consequentialist theories as well as agent-relative consequentialist theories. I will argue in this paper that this last claim is (...) false. The paper is divided into four sections. Section one specifies two senses in which consequentialism is agent-neutral. Section two and three examine and reject, respectively, the claim that there are agent-relative consequentialist views as well as agent-neutral non-consequentialist views. I end the paper with some remarks on the plausibility, or better, the implausibility of characterizing consequentialism in terms other than agent neutrality. (shrink)
Abstract: In her recent book Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity, Christine Korsgaard does a wonderful job developing her Kantian account of normativity and the rational necessity of morality. Korsgaard's account of normativity, however, has received its fair share of attention. In this discussion, the focus is on the resulting moral theory and, in particular, on Korsgaard's reason for rejecting consequentialist moral theories. The article suggests that we assume that Korsgaard's vindication of Kantian rationalism is successful and ask whether, nonetheless, her (...) account is consistent with consequentialism. It suggests further that we grant that moral reasons are not based on substantive principles, and that they must instead emerge from the purely formal principles of practical reason. Can consequentialist principles nonetheless emerge from the formal constraints of practical reason? Why can't a consequentialist embrace Korsgaard's account of self-constitution and normativity? (shrink)
Consequentialism collects, for the first time, both the main classical sources and the central contemporary expressions of this important position. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative ethics.
This paper examines recent attempts to defend Rule-Consequentialism against a traditional objection. That objection takes the form of a dilemma, that either Rule-Consequentialism collapses into Act-Consequentialism or it is incoherent. Attempts to avoid this dilemma based on the idea that using RC has better results than using AC are rejected on the grounds that they conflate the ideas of a criterion of rightness and a decision procedure. Other strategies, Brad Hooker's prominent amongst them, involving the thought that (...) RC need contain no overarching concern to maximize the good are acknowledged to avoid the original dilemma, but lead to further problems of motivating and justifying RC in the absence of such a concern. The paper argues that Hooker's attempt to deal with these problems by using a 'Reflective Equilibrium plus method is unsuccessful. (shrink)
Imagine both that (1) S1 is deliberating at t about whether or not to x at t' and that (2) although S1’s x-ing at t' would not itself have good consequences, good consequences would ensue if both S1 x's at t' and S2 y's at t", where S1 may or may not be identical to S2 and where t < t' ≤ t". In this paper, I consider how consequentialists should treat S2 and the possibility that S2 will y at (...) t". At one end of the spectrum, consequentialists would hold that, in deciding whether or not to x at t', S1 should always treat S2 as a force of nature over which she has no control and, thus, treat the possibility that S2 will y at t" as she would the possibility that a hurricane will take a certain path. On this view, S1 is to predict whether or not S2 will y and act accordingly. At the other end of the spectrum, consequentialists would hold that S1 should always treat S2 as someone available for mutual cooperation and, thus, treat the possibility that S2 will y at t" as something to be relied upon. On this view, S1 is to rely on S2’s cooperation and so play her part in the best cooperative scheme involving the two of them. A third and intermediate position would be to hold that whether S1 should treat S2 as a force of nature or as someone available for mutual cooperation depends on whether S1 can see to it that S2 will y at t" by, say, having the right set attitudes. I’ll argue for this third position. As we’ll see, an important implication of this view is that consequentialists should be concerned not just with an agent’s voluntary actions but also with their involuntary acquisitions of various mental attitudes, such as beliefs, desires, and intentions. Indeed, I will argue that consequentialists should hold both that (1) an agent’s most fundamental duty is to have all those attitudes that she has decisive reason to have and only those attitudes that she has sufficient reason to have and that (2) she has a derivative duty to perform an act x if and only if her fulfilling this fundamental duty ensures that she x’s. Thus, I argue (as Donald Regan did before me) that consequentialism should not be exclusively act-orientated – that it should require agents not only to perform certain voluntary actions but also to have certain attitudes. In the process, I develop a new version of consequentialism, which I call attitude-consequentialism. (The latest version of this paper can always be found at: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14740340/Consequentialism%20and%20Coordination%20Problems.pdf) -/- . (shrink)
What do we owe to our descendants? How do we balance their needs against our own? Tim Mulgan develops a new theory of our obligations to future generations, based on a new rule-consequentialist account of the morality of individual reproduction. He also brings together several different contemporary philosophical discussions, including the demands of morality and international justice. His aim is to produce a coherent, intuitively plausible moral theory that is not unreasonably demanding, even when extended to cover future people. While (...) the book focuses on developing this new account, there are also substantial discussions of alternative views, especially contract-based accounts of intergenerational justice and competing forms of consequentialism. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The thesis of this paper is that consequentialism does not work as a comprehensive theory of right action. This paper does not offer a typical refutation, in that I do not claim that consequentialism is self-contradictory. One can with perfect consistency claim that the good is prior to the right and that the right consists in maximizing the good. What I claim, however, is that it is senseless to make such a claim. In particular, I attempt to show (...) that the notion of what course of action maximizes the good has no content within a consequentialist framework. Since the problem that I identify rests with maximization, this refutation does not cut across the act/rule distinction. If rule consequentialism holds that there are occasions on which one should follow a rule rather than violate the rule in an optimific way, then it is not maximizing and my arguments do not apply; if not, then it collapses into act consequentialism. I have nothing to say about nonmaximizing forms of consequentialism.1 This refutation does, however, cut across the direct/indirect distinction.2 It makes no difference whether we take consequentialism as offering a principle of decision, or a standard of right. Presumably the former would be parasitic upon the latter for its legitimacy. (shrink)
I argue that rule consequentialism sometimes requires us to act in ways that we lack sufficient reason to act. And this presents a dilemma for Parfit. Either Parfit should concede that we should reject rule consequentialism (and, hence, Triple Theory, which implies it) despite the putatively strong reasons that he believes we have for accepting the view or he should deny that morality has the importance he attributes to it. For if morality is such that we sometimes have (...) decisive reason to act wrongly, then what we should be concerned with, practically speaking, is not with the morality of our actions, but with whether our actions are supported by sufficient reasons. We could, then, for all intents and purposes just ignore morality and focus on what we have sufficient reason to do, all things considered. So if my arguments are cogent, they show that Parfit’s Triple Theory is either false or relatively unimportant in that we can, for all intents and purposes, simply ignore its requirements and just do whatever it is that we have sufficient reason to do, all things considered. (shrink)
In this paper I look at attempts to develop forms of consequentialism which do not have a feature considered problematic in Direct Consequentialist theories (that is, those consequentialist theories that apply the criterion of rightness directly in the evaluation of any set of options). The problematic feature in question (which I refer to as ‘evaluative conflict’) is the possibility that, for example, a right motive might lead an agent to perform a wrong act. Theories aiming to avoid this phenomenon (...) must argue that causal relationship entails motives and acts (for example) having the same moral status. I argue that attempts to ensure such ‘evaluative consistency’ are themselves deeply problematic, and that we must therefore accept evaluative conflict. (shrink)
In Goodness and Justice, Joseph Mendola develops a unified moral theory that defends the hedonism of classical utilitarianism while evading utilitarianism's familiar difficulties by two modifications. His theory incorporates a new form of consequentialism. When, as is common, someone is engaged in conflicting group acts, it requires that one perform the role in that group that is most beneficent. The theory holds that overall value is distribution-sensitive, ceding maximum weight to the well-being of the worst-off sections of sentient lives. (...) It is properly congruent with commonsense intuition and required by the true metaphysics of value, by the unconstituted natural good found in our world. (shrink)
The paper interprets Kant’s neglected argument at FOUNDATIONS 401 as consisting of these two premises and conclusion: (1) It follows from consequentialism that in a natural paradise people would not be obligated to be morally good. (2) But this is absurd; one ought to be morally good no matter what. Therefore, consequentialism is false. It is shown that this argument is a powerful one, mainly by showing that independent grounds support (2) and that (1) may survive a number (...) of strong possible objections. One that it does not appear to survive, though, is that the paradise envisioned is not logically possible. (shrink)
Michael Clark has recently argued that the slippery slope argument against voluntary euthanasia is ‘entirely consequentialist’ and that its use to justify continued prohibition of voluntary euthanasia involves a failure to treat patients who request assistance in ending their lives as ends in themselves. This article agues that in fact the slippery slope is consistent with most forms of deontology, and that it need not involve any violation of the principle that people should be treated as ends, depending upon how (...) that principle is construed. It is concluded that supporters of voluntary euthanasia cannot dismiss the slippery slope argument on the basis of deontological principles but must take seriously the consequences that it postulates and engage in factual argument about their likely extent and about the likely effectiveness of any proposed safeguards. (shrink)
Richard Hare argues that the fundamental assumptions of Kant's ethical system should have led Kant to utilitarianism, had Kant not confused a norm's generality with its universality, and hence adopted rigorist, deontological norms. Several authors, including Jens Timmermann, have argued contra Hare that the gap between Kantian and utilitarian/consequentialist ethics is fundamental and cannot be bridged. This article shows that Timmermann's claims rely on a systematic failure to separate normative and metaethical aspects of each view, and that Hare's attempt to (...) bridge the gap between Kantian and consequentialist ethics is immune to Timmermann's criticisms. Furthermore, the term “Kantian ethics” is often misleading, and should typically be qualified as either “Kantian rationalism” or “Kantian deontology” in order to avoid confusions of the sort Timmermann falls into. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Frances Howard-Snyder argues that objective consequentialism should be rejected because it violates the principle of ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ in asking us to do what we cannot. In this comment I suggest that Howard-Snyder does not take sufficiently seriously the chief defence of objective consequentialism, which reformulates it so that it applies only to actions we can perform. Nonetheless, I argue that there are arguments relating to ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ which discredit objective consequentialism even if it (...) is thus reformulated. These arguments also cause problems for a reformulated version of subjective consequentialism. (shrink)
Consequentialism is a general approach to understanding the nature of morality that seems to entail a certain view of the world in time. This entailment raises specific problems for the approach. The first seems to lead to the conclusion that every actual act is right – an unacceptable result for any moral theory. The second calls into question the idea that consequentialism is an approach to morality, for it leads to the conclusion that this approach produces a theory (...) whose truth does not depend in any way on the nature of rational beings or value. (shrink)
This paper identifies the different normative ethical arguments stated and suggested by Arjuna and Krishna in the Gītā , analyzes those arguments, examines the interrelations between those arguments, and demonstrates that, contrary to a common view, both Arjuna and Krishna advance ethical theories of a broad consequentialist nature. It is shown that Krishna’s ethical theory, in particular, is a distinctive kind of rule-consequentialism that takes as intrinsically valuable the twin consequences of mokṣa and lokasaṃgraha . It is also argued (...) that Krishna’s teachings in the Gītā gain in depth, coherence, and critical relevance what they lose in simplicity when the ethical theory underlying those teachings is understood as a consequentialism of this kind rather than as a deontology. (shrink)
Elizabeth Anderson claims that states of affairs are merely extrinsically valuable, since we value them only in virtue of the intrinsically valuable (e.g.) persons in those states of affairs. Since it considers states of affairs to be the sole bearers of intrinsic value, Anderson argues that consequentialism is incoherent because it attempts to globally maximize extrinsic value. I respond to this objection by distinguishing between two forms of consequentialist teleology and arguing that Anderson''s claim is either harmless or her (...) argument for the claim is uncompelling. On the first conception of teleology, consequentialists need not hold that states of affairs are the sole bearers of intrinsic value, which allows them to deflect this criticism. On the second account of teleology, even assuming that states of affairs are the sole bearers of intrinsic value, Anderson''s argument does not necessarily defeat such views. (shrink)
In the 1960’s, Lars Bergström and Hector-Neri Castañeda noticed a problem with alternative acts and consequentialism. The source of the problem is that some performable acts are versions of other performable acts and the versions need not have the same consequences as the originals. Therefore, if all performable acts are among the agent’s alternatives, act consequentialism yields deontic paradoxes. A standard response is to restrict the application of act consequentialism to certain relevant alternative sets. Many proposals are (...) based on some variation of maximalism, that is, the view that act consequentialism should only be applied to maximally specific acts. In this paper, I argue that maximalism cannot yield the right prescriptions in some cases where one can either (i) form at once the intention to do an immediate act and form at a later time the intention to do a succeeding act or (ii) form at once the intention to do both acts and where the consequences of (i) and (ii) differ in value. Maximalism also violates normative invariance, that is, the condition that if an act is performable in a situation, then the normative status of the act does not depend on what acts are performed in the situation. Instead of maximalism, I propose that the relevant alternatives should be the exhaustive combinations of acts the agent can jointly perform without performing any other act in the situation. In this way, one avoids the problem of act versions without violating normative invariance. Another advantage is that one can adequately differentiate between possibilities like (i) and (ii). (shrink)
Consequentialism, one of the major theories of normative ethics, maintains that the moral rightness of an act is determined solely by the act's consequences and its alternatives. The traditional form of consequentialism is one-dimensional, in that the rightness of an act is a function of a single moral aspect, such as the sum total of wellbeing it produces. In this book Martin Peterson introduces a new type of consequentialist theory: multidimensional consequentialism. According to this theory, an act's (...) moral rightness depends on several separate dimensions, including individual wellbeing, equality and risk. Peterson's novel approach shows that moral views about equality and risk that were previously thought to be mutually incompatible can be rendered compatible, and his precise theoretical discussion helps the reader to understand better the distinction between consequentialist and non-consequentialist theories. His book will interest a wide range of readers in ethics. (shrink)
In this anthology, distinguished scholars--Thomas Nagel, T.M. Scanlon, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Samuela Scheffler, Conrad D. Johnson, Bernard Williams, Peter Railton, Amartya Sen, Philippa Foot, and Derek Parfit-- debate arguments for and against the moral doctrine of consequentialism to present a complete view of this important topic in moral philosophy.
I take issue with Bernard Gert’s interpretation of Hobbes on two main points. First, I argue that Hobbes’s moral theory reduces to a sophisticated form of consequentialism. Second, I argue that Hobbes’s moral theory is more demanding than Gert’s interpretation, and some of Hobbes’s own remarks, make it appear. I focus on Gert’s reading of Hobbes’s second law of nature, and argue that the law presents us with a Hobson’s choice—that is, the appearance of a choice of how much (...) liberty to relinquish when really there is none. (shrink)
Any religion has an ethical component. Thus, the examination of ethical problems is very important for religious studies. Consequentialism is an ethical doctrine according to which a fact is good only if it has good consequences. In order to avoid infinite regression, there is the need for a moral foundation in conformity with the criterion of goodness. The consequentialists proposed various criteria for goodness, such as pleasure, happiness or utility. Any fact will be judged as good only if its (...) consequences belong to the moral basis. The correctness of ethical judgments depends on the analysis of consequence relations. This study takes into account material and strict implication as representations of consequence. Both of them generate ethical paradoxes. If consequence is represented by material implication, according to the Manichean ethics, a fact is either good or bad; there are no neutral ethical facts. If consequence is analyzed by strict implication, the necessary facts will not have a moral value. The present study is to suggest an original solution to these paradoxes. (shrink)
It seems that the debate between objective and subjective consequentialists might be resolved by appealing to the ought implies can principle. Howard-Snyder has suggested that if one does not know how to do something, cannot do it, and thus one cannot have an obligation to do it. I argue that this depends on an overly rich conception of ability, and that we need to look beyond the ought implies can principle to answer the question. Once we do so, it appears (...) that Prichard might have been at least partly right when he claimed that obligations are tryings. I go some way to defending a diluted version of Prichard's view. (shrink)
Most plausible moral theories must address problems of partial acceptance or partial compliance. The aim of this paper is to examine some proposed ways of dealing with partial acceptance problems as well as to introduce a new Rule Utilitarian suggestion. Here I survey three forms of Rule Utilitarianism, each of which represents a distinct approach to solving partial acceptance issues. I examine Fixed Rate, Variable Rate, and Optimum Rate Rule Utilitarianism, and argue that a new approach, Maximizing Expectation Rate Rule (...) Utilitarianism, better solves partial acceptance problems. (shrink)