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

137 found
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  1. Scalar Properties, Binary Judgments.Larry Alexander - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):85–104.
    In the moral realm, our deontic judgments are usually (always?) binary. An act (or omission) is either morally forbidden or morally permissible. 1 Yet the determination of an act's deontic status frequently turns on the existence of properties that are matters of degree. In what follows I shall give several examples of binary moral judgments that turn on scalar properties, and I shall claim that these examples should puzzle us. How can the existence of a property to a specific degree (...)
  2. 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 (...)
  3. Sophisticated Rule Consequentialism: Some Simple Objections.Richard Arneson - 2005 - Philosophical Issues 15 (1):235–251.
    The popularity of rule-consequentialism among philosophers has waxed and waned. Waned, mostly; at least lately. The idea that the morality that ought to claim allegiance is the ideal code of rules whose acceptance by everybody would bring about best consequences became the object of careful analysis about half a century ago, in the writings of J. J. C. Smart, John Rawls, David Lyons, Richard Brandt, Richard Hare, and others.1 They considered utilitarian versions of rule consequentialism but discovered flaws in the (...)
  4. Brad Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World.R. Audi - 2001 - Utilitas 13 (3):357-359.
  5. Brad Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, Oxford, Clarendon Press, Pp. Xiii + 213.Robert Audi - 2001 - Utilitas 13 (3):357.
  6. Act- Vs. Rule-Utilitarianism.Royal Eugene Bales - 1968 - Dissertation, Stanford University
  7. 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 (...)
  8. The Equivalence of Act and Rule Utilitarianism.Boruch A. Brody - 1967 - Philosophical Studies 18 (6):81 - 87.
  9. “Is Rule Utilitarianism Too Restricted?”.R. David Broiles - 1964 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 2 (4):180-187.
  10. Rule-Governed Institutions Versus Act-Consequentialism: A Rejoinder to Naticchia.Allen Buchanan - 1999 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (3):258-270.
  11. Inconsistency and the Theoretical Commitments of Hooker's Rule-Consequentialism.Robert F. Card - 2007 - Utilitas 19 (2):243-258.
    Rule-consequentialism is frequently regarded as problematic since it faces the following powerful dilemma: either rule-consequentialism collapses into act-consequentialism or rule-consequentialism is inconsistent. Recent defenders of this theory such as Brad Hooker provide a careful response to this objection. By explicating the nature and theoretical commitments of rule-consequentialism, I contend that these maneuvers are not successful by offering a new way of viewing the dilemma which retains its force even in light of these recent discussions. The central idea is that even (...)
  12. Review of Brad Hooker: Ideal Code, Real World. [REVIEW]Erik Carlson - 2001 - Theoria 67 (3):268-272.
  13. A Note on Hooker's "Rule Consequentialism" Thomas L. Carson.Thomas Carson - manuscript
    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.
  14. Rule-Consequentialism and Demandingness: A Reply to Carson.Thomas Carson - manuscript
    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.
  15. A Note on Hooker's "Rule Consequentialism".Thomas L. Carson - 1991 - Mind 100 (1):117-121.
  16. Rule Consequentialism Makes Sense After All.Tyler Cowen - 2011 - Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (2):212-231.
    It is commonly claimed that rule consequentialism collapses into act consequentialism, because sometimes there are benefits from breaking the rules. I suggest this argument is less powerful than has been believed. The argument requires a commitment to a very particular account of feasibility and constraints. It requires the presupposition that thinking of rules as the relevant constraint is incorrect. Supposedly we should look at a smaller unit of choice—the single act—as the relevant choice variable. But once we see feasibility as (...)
  17. 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 (...)
  18. The Intelligibility of Rule Utilitarianism.Lawrence Davis - 1973 - Philosophical Studies 24 (5):343 - 349.
  19. Brandt's New Defense of Rule Utilitarianism.Judith Wagner Decew - 1983 - Philosophical Studies 43 (1):101 - 116.
  20. 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.
  21. Review of Brad Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World[REVIEW]Julia Driver - 2002 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2002 (6).
  22. 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. Conflicts of Rules in Hooker's Rule-Consequentialism.Ben Eggleston - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (3):329-349.
    Just about any proponent of a rule-based theory of morality must eventually confront the question of how to resolve confl icts among the rules that the theory endorses. Is there a priority rule specifying which rules must yield to which, as in Rawls’s lexical ordering of the fi rst principle of his theory of justice over the second?3 Must the agent intuitively bal-.
  24. Act Vs. Rule-Utilitarianism.Donald C. Emmons - 1973 - Mind 82 (326):226-233.
  25. A Defense of Rule Utilitarianism Against David Lyons Who Insists on Tieing It to Act Utilitarianism, Plus a Brand New Way of Checking Out General Utilitarian Properties.Gertrude Ezorsky - 1968 - Journal of Philosophy 65 (18):533 - 544.
  26. Hare's Proof.Fred Feldman - 1984 - Philosophical Studies 45 (2):269 - 283.
  27. The Principle of Moral Harmony.Fred Feldman - 1980 - Journal of Philosophy 77 (3):166-179.
  28. On the Extensional Equivalence of Simple and General Utilitarianism.Fred Feldman - 1974 - Noûs 8 (2):185-194.
  29. Motilal Shastri's “Rule Utilitarianism”.Richard M. Fox - 1986 - Philosophy Research Archives 12:155-162.
    Motilal Shastri developed an ethical theory which closely resembles rule utilitarianism at roughly the same time as and yet in complete independence of English-speaking philosophers. The philosophic significance of his view lies in the manner in which he develops and justifies his position. Shastri contends that efficiency in action requires indifference or inattention to ends. He appears to use the same device for justifying rule-governed duties that Mill uses to justify a move from egoism to altruism: that actions first viewed (...)
  30. Group Action and Act Consequentialism.Richard Fumerton - 1990 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 15 (1):296-310.
  31. Ideal Code, Real World, de Brad Hooker.Pedro Galvão - 2004 - Disputatio.
  32. Review of Ideal Code, Real World. [REVIEW]Pedro Galvão - 2004 - Disputatio 1:79-84.
  33. Rule-Utilitarianism and Randomization.David P. Gauthier - 1965 - Analysis 25 (3):68 - 69.
  34. Rule-Utilitarianism: Merely an Illusory Alternative?Allan F. Gibbard - 1965 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 43 (2):211 – 220.
  35. Rule-Utilitarianism and Criminal Reform.Milton Goldinger - 1967 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):103-109.
  36. The 'Collective' Interpretation of Utilitarian Generalization.Holly S. Goldman - 1978 - Philosophical Studies 34 (2):207 - 209.
  37. Reply to Silverstein.Holly S. Goldman - 1976 - Philosophical Studies 30 (1):57 - 61.
  38. David Lyons on Utilitarian Generalization.Holly S. Goldman - 1974 - Philosophical Studies 26 (2):77 - 95.
  39. Brad Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World:Ideal Code, Real World.George W. Harris - 2003 - Ethics 113 (4):882-885.
  40. Rule Utilitarianism, Equality, and Justice.John C. Harsanyi - 1985 - Social Philosophy and Policy 2 (2):115.
    Utilitarianism and the Concept of Social Utility In this paper I propose to discuss the concepts of equality and justice from a rule utilitarian point of view, after some comments on the rule utilitarian point of view itself. Let me start with the standard definitions. Act utilitarianism is the theory that a morally right action is one that in the existing situation will produce the highest expected social utility. In contrast, rule utilitarianism is the theory that a morally right action (...)
  41. Rule Utilitarianism, Rights, Obligations and the Theory of Rational Behavior.John C. Harsanyi - 1980 - Theory and Decision 12 (2):115-133.
  42. Bayesian Decision Theory, Rule Utilitarianism, and Arrow's Impossibility Theorem.John C. Harsanyi - 1979 - Theory and Decision 11 (3):289-317.
  43. Rule Utilitarianism and Decision Theory.John C. Harsanyi - 1977 - Erkenntnis 11 (1):25 - 53.
    The purpose of this paper is to show how some of the controversial questions concerning utilitarianism can be clarified by the modelling techniques and the other analytical tools of decision theory (and, sometimes, of game theory). It is suggested that the moral rules of utilitarian ethics have a logical status similar to that of the normative rules (theorems) of such formal normative disciplines as decision theory and game theory.The paper argues that social utility should be defined, not in hedonistic or (...)
  44. Justice and Rule Utilitarianism.Edwin Hartman - 1996 - The Ruffin Series in Business Ethics:44-47.
  45. Review of 'The Demands of Consequentialism' by T. Mulgan. [REVIEW]Hooker Bradford - unknown
  46. Promises and Rule-Consequentialism.Brad Hooker - unknown
    The duty to keep promises has many aspects associated with deontological moral theories. The duty to keep promises is non-welfarist, in that the obligation to keep a promise need not be conditional on there being a net benefit from keeping the promise—indeed need not be conditional on there being at least someone who would benefit from its being kept. The duty to keep promises is more closely connected to autonomy than directly to welfare: agents have moral powers to give themselves (...)
  47. 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 (...)
  48. Rule Utilitarianism.Brad Hooker - unknown
  49. Rule-Consequentialism and Its Virtues.Brad Hooker - 2008 - Rivista di Filosofia 99 (3):491-510.
  50. Rule-Consequentialism and Internal Consistency: A Reply to Card.Brad Hooker - 2007 - Utilitas 19 (4):514-519.
    Rule-consequentialism has been accused of either collapsing into act-consequentialism or being internally inconsistent. I have tried to develop a form of rule-consequentialism without these flaws. In this June's issue of Utilitas, Robert Card argued that I have failed. Here I assess his arguments.
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