About this topic
Summary Act-consequentialists rank acts according to how good their consequences would be and then hold that the permissibility of acts is a function of this ranking. For instance, maximizing act-utilitarians rank acts according to how much utility they would produce and then hold that an act is permissible if and only if it produces at least as much utility as that of any alternative act. Rule-consequentialists, by contrast, rank, not acts, but sets of rules according to how good their consequences would be if they were widely (or universally) accepted (or complied with) and then hold that an act is permissible if and only if it is permitted by a set of rules whose associated consequences would be at least as good as that associated with any alternative set of rules. Some key issues are (1) whether rule-consequentialism is guilty of collapsing into act-consequentialism or, if not, whether it can still be a coherent view, (2) whether rule-consequentialism can adequately deal with cases where these is only partial compliance with the ideal set of rules, (3) whether rule-consequentialism is overly demanding, and (4) whether rule-consequentialism can adequately deal with cases where abiding by one of the rules in the ideal set would have disastrous consequences. 
Key works You can get a pretty good sense of the current debate by reading both Hooker 2000 and Arneson 2005.
Introductions The best introduction, to my mind, is Hooker 2000.
Related categories

135 found
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  1. added 2018-06-15
    Consequentialism and Its Demands: The Role of Institutions.Attila Tanyi & András Miklós - manuscript
    It isn’t saying much to claim that morality is demanding; the question, rather, is: can morality be so demanding that we have reason not to follow its dictates? According to many, it can, if that morality is a consequentialist one. This paper takes the plausibility and coherence of this objection – the Demandingness Objection – as a given. Our question, therefore, is how to respond to the Objection. We put forward a response that we think has not received sufficient attention (...)
  2. added 2018-06-10
    Psychological Mechanism of Corruption: A Comprehensive Review. [REVIEW]Juneman Abraham, Julia Suleeman & Bagus Takwin - forthcoming - Asian Journal of Scientific Research.
    Corruption prevention can be more effective if it does not rely merely on legal enforcement. This theoretical review aimed to propose a hypothetical psychological model capable of explaining the behavior of corruption. Moral disengagement is a variable that is considered ontologically closest in “distance” to the variable of corruption behavior. Counterfeit self, implicit self-theory, ethical mindset and moral emotion are taken into account as the pivotal factors of the corruption behavior and its mechanism of moral disengagement. Counterfeit self along with (...)
  3. added 2018-05-31
    Introducing Recursive Consequentialism: A Modified Version of Cooperative Utilitarianism.Evan G. Williams - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (269):794-812.
    This article proposes ‘Recursive Consequentialism’: the moral theory which gives agents whatever advice will produce good consequences by being given. It can be thought of as a version of Donald Regan's ‘Cooperative Utilitarianism’ to which two additional elements have been added: allowing people with differing conceptions of ‘good consequences’, e.g., a Utilitarian and a non-Utilitarian, to cooperate with one another, and taking into account the full consequences of accepting, not just complying with, moral guidance. The theory is motivated by a (...)
  4. added 2018-02-05
    What Is Conventionalism About Moral Rights and Duties?Katharina Nieswandt - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-14.
    ABSTRACTA powerful objection against moral conventionalism says that it gives the wrong reasons for individual rights and duties. The reason why I must not break my promise to you, for example, should lie in the damage to you—rather than to the practice of promising or to all other participants in that practice. Common targets of this objection include the theories of Hobbes, Gauthier, Hooker, Binmore, and Rawls. I argue that the conventionalism of these theories is superficial; genuinely conventionalist theories are (...)
  5. added 2017-12-21
    Institutional Consequentialism and Global Governance.Attila Tanyi & András Miklós - 2017 - Journal of Global Ethics 13 (3):279-297.
    Elsewhere we have responded to the so-called demandingness objection to consequentialism – that consequentialism is excessively demanding and is therefore unacceptable as a moral theory – by introducing the theoretical position we call institutional consequentialism. This is a consequentialist view that, however, requires institutional systems, and not individuals, to follow the consequentialist principle. In this paper, we first introduce and explain the theory of institutional consequentialism and the main reasons that support it. In the remainder of the paper, we turn (...)
  6. added 2017-03-16
    Rule Consequentialism at Top Rates.Teemu Toppinen - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly:pqv065.
  7. added 2017-03-16
    How Much is Rule-Consequentialism Really Willing to Give Up to Save the Future of Humanity?Patrick Kaczmarek - forthcoming - Utilitas:1-11.
  8. added 2017-03-16
    The Burdens of Morality: Why Act‐Consequentialism Demands Too Little.Tom Dougherty - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (1):82-85.
    A classic objection to act-consequentialism is that it is overdemanding: it requires agents to bear too many costs for the sake of promoting the impersonal good. I develop the complementary objection that act-consequentialism is underdemanding: it fails to acknowledge that agents have moral reasons to bear certain costs themselves, even when it would be impersonally better for others to bear these costs.
  9. added 2017-03-16
    Act-Consequentialism Versus Rule-Consequentialism.Bradford Hooker - 2016 - In Steven Cahn & Andrew Forcehimes (eds.), Principles of Moral Philosophy: Classic and Contemporary Approaches. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
  10. added 2017-03-16
    Solving Rule-Consequentialism's Acceptance Rate Problem.Timothy D. Miller - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (1):41-53.
    Recent formulations of rule-consequentialism have attempted to select the ideal moral code based on realistic assumptions of imperfect acceptance. But this introduces further problems. What assumptions about acceptance would be realistic? And what criterion should we use to identify the ideal code? The solutions suggested in the recent literature all calculate a code's value using formulas that stipulate some uniform rate of acceptance. After pointing out a number of difficulties with these approaches, I introduce a formulation of RC on which (...)
  11. added 2017-03-16
    The Failure of Hooker’s Argument for Rule Consequentialism.Sanford Levy - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (5):598-614.
    Brad Hooker argues for rule consequentialism using narrow reflective equilibrium resources along with a handful of wider resources. One of his important claims in defense of rule consequentialism is that it begins from a familiar and attractive idea about morality. I argue that his defense of rule consequentialism fails and more particularly, that rather than beginning from a familiar and attractive idea, it begins from an idea that is quite unattractive. I show this by applying the method rule consequentialists use (...)
  12. added 2017-03-16
    Rule Utilitarianism.Brad Hooker - unknown
  13. added 2017-03-16
    Promises and Rule Consequentialism.Bradford Hooker - unknown
  14. added 2017-03-16
    Rule Consequentialism.Bradford Hooker - unknown
  15. added 2017-03-16
    Two Concepts of Rule Utilitarianism.Rex Martin - 2007 - Southwest Philosophy Review 23 (1):49-58.
  16. added 2017-03-16
    Rule-Consequentialism and Internal Consistency: A Reply to Card.Bradford Hooker - unknown
  17. added 2017-03-16
    Review of 'The Demands of Consequentialism' by T. Mulgan. [REVIEW]Bradford Hooker - unknown
  18. added 2017-03-16
    Review of Brad Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World[REVIEW]Julia Driver - 2002 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (6).
  19. added 2017-03-16
    Morality, Rules, and Consequences: A Critical Reader.Brad Hooker, Elinor Mason, Dale E. Miller, D. W. Haslett, Shelly Kagan, Sanford S. Levy, David Lyons, Phillip Montague, Tim Mulgan, Philip Pettit, Madison Powers, Jonathan Riley, William H. Shaw, Michael Smith & Alan Thomas (eds.) - 2000 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
    What determines whether an action is right or wrong? Morality, Rules, and Consequences: A Critical Reader explores for students and researchers the relationship between consequentialist theory and moral rules. Most of the chapters focus on rule consequentialism or on the distinction between act and rule versions of consequentialism. Contributors, among them the leading philosophers in the discipline, suggest ways of assessing whether rule consequentialism could be a satisfactory moral theory. These essays, all of which are previously unpublished, provide students in (...)
  20. added 2017-03-03
    Wouldn't It Be Nice? Moral Rules and Distant Worlds.Abelard Podgorski - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):279-294.
    Traditional rule consequentialism faces a problem sometimes called the ideal world objection—the worry that by looking only at the consequences in worlds where rules are universally adhered to, the theory fails to account for problems that arise because adherence to rules in the real world is inevitably imperfect. In response, recent theorists have defended sophisticated versions of rule consequentialism which are sensitive to the consequences in worlds with less utopian levels of adherence. In this paper, I argue that these attempts (...)
  21. added 2017-01-14
    Ideal Code, Real World: A Rule-Consequentialist Theory of Morality.Brad Hooker - 2002 - Oxford University Press UK.
    What are appropriate criteria for assessing a theory of morality? In Ideal Code, Real World, Brad Hooker begins by answering this question, and then argues for a rule-consequentialist theory. According to rule-consequentialism, acts should be assessed morally in terms of impartially justified rules, and rules are impartially justified if and only if the expected overall value of their general internalization is at least as great as for any alternative rules. In the course of developing his rule-consequentialism, Hooker discusses impartiality, well-being, (...)
  22. added 2016-12-21
    Mill’s Moral Standard.Ben Eggleston - 2017 - In Christopher Macleod & Dale E. Miller (eds.), A Companion to Mill. Oxford, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. pp. 358-373.
    A book chapter (about 7,000 words, plus references) on the interpretation of Mill’s criterion of right and wrong, with particular attention to act utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism, and sanction utilitarianism. Along the way, major topics include Mill’s thoughts on liberalism, supererogation, the connection between wrongness and punishment, and breaking rules when doing so will produce more happiness than complying with them will.
  23. added 2016-12-12
    Moral Legislation: A Legal-Political Model for Indirect Consequentialist Reasoning.Conrad D. Johnson - 1991 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is a book about moral reasoning: how we actually reason and how we ought to reason. It defends a form of 'rule' utilitarianism whereby we must sometimes judge and act in moral questions in accordance with generally accepted rules, so long as the existence of those rules is justified by the good they bring about. The author opposes the currently more fashionable view that it is always right for the individual to do that which produces the most good. Among (...)
  24. added 2016-12-08
    Actual Rule Utilitarianism.Richard B. Miller - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (1):5-28.
  25. added 2016-12-08
    Rule-Governed Institutions Versus Act-Consequentialism: A Rejoinder to Naticchia.Allen Buchanan - 1999 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (3):258-270.
  26. added 2016-09-19
    Rule Consequentialism and Moral Relativism in Advance.Ryan Jenkins - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Research.
    Rule consequentialism is usually taken to recommend a single ideal code for all moral agents. Here I argue that, depending on their theoretical mo- tivations, some rule consequentialists have good reasons to be relativists. Rule consequentialists who are moved by consequentialist considerations ought to support a scheme of multiple relativized moral codes because we could expect such a scheme to have better consequences in terms of impartial aggregate well- being than a single universal code. Rule consequentialists who nd compelling the (...)
  27. added 2016-08-21
    Rule Consequentialism and Non-Identity.Tim Mulgan - 2009 - In David Wasserman & Melinda Roberts (eds.), Harming Future Persons. Springer. pp. 115--134.
  28. added 2016-08-20
    Consequentialism.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  29. added 2016-08-20
    Moral Theory and Political Practice: A Rule-Consequentialist Account of the Relation Between Ethics and Politics.David Gordon Lockwood - unknown
    Many philosophers argue for the Distinct Political Morality Thesis, which holds that private and political life are governed by different normative theories. I reject this claim, and must therefore find a theory that adequately encompasses both realms. I argue in Part I of this thesis that rule-consequentialism offers a defensible compromise. However, standard accounts of the theory are vulnerable to the 'collapse/incoherence dilemma'. Brad Hooker's version solves the collapse objection, but still faces difficulties associated with rule-worship and conflicts between rules. (...)
  30. added 2016-08-20
    Rule-Consequentialism and Its Virtues.Brad Hooker - 2008 - Rivista di Filosofia 99 (3):491-510.
  31. added 2016-08-20
    Review of Ideal Code, Real World. [REVIEW]Pedro Galvão - 2004 - Disputatio 1 (17):79-84.
  32. added 2016-08-20
    HOOKER, B.-Ideal Code, Real World.J. Lenman - 2003 - Philosophical Books 44 (2):181-182.
  33. added 2016-08-20
    One False Virtue of Rule Consequentialism, and One New Vice.Tim Mulgan - 1996 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 77 (4):362-373.
    A common objection to _act consequentialism (AC) is that it makes unreasonable demands on moral agents. _Rule consequentialism (RC) is often presented as a less demanding alternative. It is argued that this alleged virtue of RC is false, as RC will not be any less demanding in practice than AC. It is then demonstrated that RC has an additional (hitherto unnoticed) vice, as it relies upon the undefended simplifying assumption that the best possible consequences would arise in a society in (...)
  34. added 2016-05-17
    A New Argument Against Rule Consequentialism.Christopher Woodard - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (3):247-261.
    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 (...)
  35. added 2016-05-17
    Reasons, Patterns, and Cooperation.Christopher Woodard - 2007 - Routledge.
    This book is about fundamental questions in normative ethics. It begins with the idea that we often respond to ethical theories according to how principled or pragmatic they are. It clarifies this contrast and then uses it to shed light on old debates in ethics, such as debates about the rival merits of consequentialist and deontological views. Using the idea that principled views seem most appealing in dilemmas of acquiescence, it goes on to develop a novel theory of pattern-based reasons. (...)
  36. added 2016-04-10
    Review of Brad Hooker: Ideal Code, Real World. [REVIEW]Erik Carlson - 2001 - Theoria 67 (3):268-272.
  37. added 2016-04-10
    Brad Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World.R. Audi - 2001 - Utilitas 13 (3):357-359.
  38. added 2016-04-10
    Act- Vs. Rule-Utilitarianism.Royal Eugene Bales - 1968 - Dissertation, Stanford University
  39. added 2015-10-20
    The Common Structure of Kantianism and Act-Utilitarianism.Christopher Woodard - 2013 - Utilitas 25 (2):246-265.
    This article proposes a way of understanding Kantianism, act-utilitarianism and some other important ethical theories according to which they are all versions of the same kind of theory, sharing a common structure. I argue that this is a profitable way to understand the theories discussed. It is charitable to the theories concerned; it emphasizes the common ground between them; it gives us insights into the differences between them; and it provides a method for generating new ethical theories worth studying. The (...)
  40. added 2015-04-26
    Must Kantian Contractualism and Rule-Consequentialism Converge?Brad Hooker - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 4:34-52.
    Derek Parfit’s On What Matters endorses Kantian Contractualism, the normative theory that everyone ought to follow the rules that everyone could rationally will that everyone accept. This paper explores Parfit’s argument that Kantian Contractualism converges with Rule Consequentialism. A pivotal concept in Parfit’s argument is the concept of impartiality, which he seems to equate agent-neutrality. This paper argues that equating impartiality and agent-neutrality is insufficient, since some agent-neutral considerations are silly and some are not impartial. Perhaps more importantly, there is (...)
  41. added 2014-09-28
    Ein Plädoyer für den Rechtsnormen-Konsequentialismus.Vuko Andrić & Martin Kerz - 2014 - Archiv für Rechts- Und Sozialphilosophie 140:87-98.
    How can legal norms be morally evaluated? In this paper we discuss and defend consequentialism about legal norms. According to this doctrine, the legitimacy of legal norms depends entirely on the consequences of the norms’ validity. Consequentialism about legal norms shares the advantages of both act- and rule-consequentialism while avoiding the respective disadvantages. In particular, consequentialism about legal norms has prima-facie plausibility like act-consequentialism and for similar reasons: it qualifies as a version of collective act-consequentialism. At the same time, the (...)
  42. added 2014-05-16
    Making Room for Rules.Adam Cureton - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (3):737-759.
    Kantian moral theories must explain how their most basic moral values of dignity and autonomy should be interpreted and applied to human conditions. One place Kantians should look for inspiration is, surprisingly, the utilitarian tradition and its emphasis on generally accepted, informally enforced, publicly known moral rules of the sort that help us give assurances, coordinate our behavior, and overcome weak wills. Kantians have tended to ignore utilitarian discussions of such rules mostly because they regard basic moral principles as a (...)
  43. added 2014-04-02
    A Contractualist Defense of Rule Consequentialism.Sanford Levy - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:189-201.
    In this paper, I provide a defense of rule consequentialism that does not appeal to the “guiding teleological idea” according to which the final ground of moral assessment must lie in effects on well-being. My defense also avoids appeals to intuition. It is a contractualist defense. Many forms of contractualism can, with only minor tweaking, be used to defend rule consequentialism. In this paper I show how one specific form of contractualism does the job. This argument is inspired by a (...)
  44. added 2014-04-02
    Rule-Consequentialism, Incoherence, Fairness.Brad Hooker - 1994 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95:19 - 35.
  45. added 2014-04-02
    Distributive Justice and Rule Utilitarianism.Nolan Kaiser - 1971 - Philosophical Studies 20:144-151.
  46. added 2014-04-01
    Ross-Style Pluralism Versus Rule-Consequentialism.Brad Hooker - 1996 - Mind 105 (420):531-552.
    This paper employs (and defends where needed) a familiar four-part methodology for assessing moral theories. This methodology makes the most popular kind of moral pluralism--here called Ross-style pluralism--look extremely attractive. The paper contends, however, that, if rule-consequentialism's implications match our considered moral convictions as well as Ross-style pluralism's implications do, the methodology makes rule-consequentialism look even more attractive than Ross-style pluralism. The paper then attacks two arguments recently put forward in defence of Ross-style pluralism. One of these arguments is that (...)
  47. added 2014-03-31
    Can Hooker's Rule-Consequentialist Principle Justify Ross's Prima Facie Duties?Philip Stratton-Lake - 1997 - Mind 106 (424):751-758.
  48. added 2014-03-30
    Conscience (Rule) Utilitarianism and the Criminal Law.R. B. Brandt - 1995 - Law and Philosophy 14 (1):65 - 89.
    A rule- utilitarian appraisal of criminal law requires that the total system, including punishments, is justified only if it will expectably maximize public benefit, including its stigmatizing some behaviors as "offenses" and its prescribed punishment of these, such as imprisonment, with (possible) deterrent effects. In view of the paucity of evidence about the deterrent effect of prison sentences, some changes seem to be in order: reduction in the length of incarceration, replacement of prison by fines or restrictions on the convicted (...)
  49. added 2014-03-29
    Rule-Consequentialism and Obligations Toward the Needy.Brad Hooker - 1998 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (1):19–33.
    Most of us believe morality requires us to help the desperately needy. But most of us also believe morality doesn't require us to make enormous sacrifices in order to help people who have no special connection with us. Such self-sacrifice is of course praiseworthy, but it isn't morally mandatory. Rule-consequentialism might seem to offer a plausible grounding for such beliefs. Tim Mulgan has recently argued in _Analysis and _Pacific Philosophical Quarterly that rule-consequentialism cannot do so. This paper replies to Mulgan's (...)
  50. added 2014-03-28
    On the Viability of a Rule Utilitarianism.Daniel E. Palmer - 1999 - Journal of Value Inquiry 33 (1):31-42.
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