Edited by Douglas W. Portmore (Arizona State University)
|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.|
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
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