About this topic
Summary Consequentialists take the value of outcomes to ground or explain other important normative properties such as the rightness of acts. Act Utilitarianism, the view that we should maximize well-being (or "happiness"), is perhaps the paradigmatic form of consequentialism.  But many alternatives have been developed, as found under the "Varieties of Consequentialism" sub-category.  An obvious dimension of variation concerns the consequentialist's axiology or conception of the good -- what is to be promoted.  (Allowing agent-relative values, especially, can lead to dramatic divergence from the impartial welfarism of traditional utilitarianism.)  But there are also many different proposals concerning the relation between value and other normative properties, as seen, for example, in the debate between act and rule consequentialists. A lot of work has been done assessing a variety of arguments against consequentialism.  Less has been said (either positively or negatively) about arguments for consequentialism.
Key works The classical texts are Mill's Utilitarianism and Sidgwick 1874.  The contemporary debate owes much to Bernard Williams' criticisms in Smart & Williams 1973.  Especially significant developments occur in Parfit 1984Railton 1984, and Pettit & Smith 2000.
Introductions Smart & Williams 1973 offers an accessible introduction to the debate over utilitarianism, in particular.
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  1. Book Review:Moral Legislation: A Legal-Political Model for Indirect Consequentialist Reasoning Conrad D. Johnson. [REVIEW]Jonathan E. Adler - 1993 - Ethics 103 (4):814-.
  2. Epistemic Consequentialism.Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij & Jeff Dunn (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    An important issue in epistemology concerns the source of epistemic normativity. Epistemic consequentialism maintains that epistemic norms are genuine norms in virtue of the way in which they are conducive to epistemic value, whatever epistemic value may be. So, for example, the epistemic consequentialist might say that it is a norm that beliefs should be consistent, in that holding consistent beliefs is the best way to achieve the epistemic value of accuracy. Thus epistemic consequentialism is structurally similar to the family (...)
  3. Three Reservations About Consequentialism.Hal R. Arkes - 1994 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (1):11.
    According to a simple form of consequentialism, we should base decision on our judgments about their consequences for achieving out goals. Our goals give us reason to endorse consequentialism as a standard of decision making. Alternative standards invariably lead to consequences that are less good in this sense. Yet some people knowingly follow decision rules that violate consequentialism. For example, they prefer harmful omissions to less harmful acts, they favor the status quo over alternatives they would otherwise judge to be (...)
  4. The End of Welfare As We Know It? Scanlon Versus Welfarist Consequentialism.Richard J. Arneson - 2002 - Social Theory and Practice 28 (2):315-336.
    A notable achievement of T.M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other is its sustained critique of welfarist consequentialism. Consequentialism is the doctrine that one morally ought always to do an act, of the alternatives, that brings about a state of affairs that is no less good than any other one could bring about. Welfarism is the view that what makes a state of affairs better or worse is some increasing function of the welfare for persons realized in it. I (...)
  5. Common-Sense Morality and Consequentialism.R. W. Beardsmore - 1986 - Philosophical Books 27 (2):116-118.
  6. Review: The Limits of Utilitarianism and Beyond. [REVIEW]H. A. Bedau - 1985 - Ethics 95 (2):333 - 341.
  7. Daño al futuro: ¿Puede el no comparativismo resolver el problema de la no-identidad?Santiago Truccone Borgogno - 2017 - Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 70:83-96.
    la tesis clásica del daño afirma que un sujeto daña a otro cuando lo coloca en una peor situación de la que podría estar de otro modo. Sin embargo, algunas acciones causan consecuencias malas en determinados sujetos pero no los colocan en una condición peor de la que podrían estar de otro modo. En tales casos el no-comparativismo parece poder aportar la solución correcta desde que, para tales tesis dañar a otro es colocar a un sujeto en una condición mala. (...)
  8. Entre la utilidad y el daño: el problema de la no-identidad [Utilidad, daño y responsabilidad: el problema de la no identidad].Santiago Truccone Borgogno - 2017 - Télos 21 (2):67-84.
    In this paper I tried to find a harm based solution to the non-identity problem. I will argue that we can identify harm to future people in the non-identity cases in a violation to his right to get what the Principle of Utility implies that he should be given. That is the maxim expectable wellbeing that the agent could create in some future people.
  9. Can Consequences Be Right-Makers?Stephen Boulter - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-21.
    This paper sets out a novel challenge to consequentialism as a theory in normative ethics. The challenge is rooted in the ontological claim that consequences of actions do not exist at the time required to be that in virtue of which actions are right or wrong, and so consequences cannot play the role attributed to them by consequentialists. The challenge takes the form of a dilemma. The consequentialist is confronted with a set of propositions she will find individually plausible but (...)
  10. Utilitarianism: Restorations, Repairs, Renovations.David Braybrooke - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (1):121-124.
  11. Disagreement, Perspectivism, Consequentialism.Arnold Burms - 2009 - Ethical Perspectives 16 (2):155-163.
    Theoretical reflection on moral disagreement can be pertinent from a practical point of view. When far reaching policies depend on agreement about conflicting moral options, the need may be felt to reflect on strategies for reducing conflict and reaching a consensus. In such a context, it may for instance be useful to study mechanisms that tend to bring about bias and prejudice. In this paper, however, I will not be concerned with whatever might be done to reduce disagreement. My approach (...)
  12. Deep Down: Consequentialist Assumptions Underlying Policy Differences.Zeljka Buturovic - 2012 - Critical Review 24 (2):269-289.
    A conditional survey establishes a preliminary case for believing that policy differences are to some extent driven by fundamental beliefs about empirical aspects of society and economics. The survey shows willingness in about a third of all respondents to shift their expressed policy preferences when asked a hypothetical question positing negative consequences of their initial preferences. This suggests that assumptions about the consequences of public policies may play as important a role in policy preferences, or a more important role, than (...)
  13. Utilitarianism and Co-Operation.David Copp & Donald H. Regan - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (4):617.
  14. The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism.James E. Crimmins (ed.) - forthcoming - Bloomsbury Academic.
  15. Utilitarianism and Accomplishment Revisited.R. Crisp - 2001 - Analysis 61 (2):162-164.
  16. Utilitarianism and Accomplishment.R. Crisp - 2000 - Analysis 60 (3):264-268.
  17. Utilitarianism: A Coffeehouse Conversation.Paul Davis - 2006 - Think 4 (12):107-110.
    Some classic criticisms of utilitarianism explored.
  18. Towards a Credible Act-Utilitarianism.Eric Dayton - 1979 - American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1):61 - 66.
  19. Mental-Threshold Egalitarianism in Advance.Rainer Ebert - forthcoming - Social Theory and Practice.
    Mental-threshold egalitarianism, well-known examples of which include Jeff McMahan’s two-tiered account of the wrongness of killing and Tom Regan’s theory of animal rights, divides morally considerable beings into equals and unequals on the basis of their individual mental capacities. In this paper, I argue that the line that separates equals from unequals is unavoidably arbitrary and implausibly associates an insignificant difference in empirical reality with a momentous difference in moral status. In response to these objections, McMahan has proposed the introduction (...)
  20. Mental-Threshold Egalitarianism.Rainer Ebert - 2018 - Social Theory and Practice 44 (1):75-93.
    Mental-threshold egalitarianism, well-known examples of which include Jeff McMahan’s two-tiered account of the wrongness of killing and Tom Regan’s theory of animal rights, divides morally considerable beings into equals and unequals on the basis of their individual mental capacities. In this paper, I argue that the line that separates equals from unequals is unavoidably arbitrary and implausibly associates an insignificant difference in empirical reality with a momentous difference in moral status. In response to these objections, McMahan has proposed the introduction (...)
  21. Against the Leveling of Virtue: Essentials of a Consequentialist Account.David Elliott - 1999 - Journal of Social Philosophy 30 (1):65-82.
  22. Review: Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism. [REVIEW]Richard E. Flathman - 1966 - Ethics 76 (4):309 - 317.
  23. Modern Utilitarianism.James Griffin - 1982 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 36 (3):331.
  24. Is Utilitarianism Useless?Daniel M. Hausman - 1991 - Theory and Decision 30 (3):273-278.
  25. The Problem of ‘Utility of Religion’ in the Classical Utilitarianism -Centered on the Concept of ‘Religion of Humanity’ by J. S. Mill-.Nam Kyol Heo - 2012 - Journal of Ethics 1 (86):27-53.
  26. The Literary Opposition to Utilitarianism.Granville Hicks - 1937 - Science and Society 1 (4):454 - 472.
  27. Utilitarianism.A. L. Hodder - 1892 - Ethics 3 (1):90.
  28. Consequentialism, Moralities of Concern, and Selfishness.Ted Honderich - 1996 - Philosophy 71 (278):499 - 520.
    Here are some kinds of reasons for taking an action to have been morally right. It was done out of a good intention or a pure good will on the part of the agent, or was owed to a virtue of hers. It issued from the agent's moral perception or intuition with respect to a situation, not from the application of a general principle or from calculation of the consequences of possible actions. Although it would give rise to distress or (...)
  29. Elbow-Room for Consequentialists.Frances Howard-Snyder - 1992 - Analysis 52 (4):249 - 253.
  30. The Numbers Problem.Nien-hê Hsieh, Alan Strudler & David Wasserman - 2006 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (4):352-372.
  31. Contemporary Debates in Moral Theories.Dreier Jamie (ed.) - 2006 - Blackwell.
  32. Collaboration and Responsibility.F. M. Kamm - 2000 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (3):169-204.
  33. Consequentialism.Irfan Khawaja - 2005 - Teaching Philosophy 28 (3):281-284.
  34. Restricted Prioritarianism or Competing Claims?Benjamin Lange - 2017 - Utilitas 29 (2):137-152.
    I here settle a recent dispute between two rival theories in distributive ethics: Restricted Prioritarianism and the Competing Claims View. Both views mandate that the distribution of benefits and burdens between individuals should be justifiable to each affected party in a way that depends on the strength of each individual’s separately assessed claim to receive a benefit. However, they disagree about what elements constitute the strength of those individuals’ claims. According to restricted prioritarianism, the strength of a claim is determined (...)
  35. Morality Under Risk.Chad Lee-Stronach - 2018 - Dissertation,
    Many argue that absolutist moral theories -- those that prohibit particular kinds of actions or trade-offs under all circumstances -- cannot adequately account for the permissibility of risky actions. In this dissertation, I defend various versions of absolutism against this critique, using overlooked resources from formal decision theory. Against the prevailing view, I argue that almost all absolutist moral theories can give systematic and plausible verdicts about what to do in risky cases. In doing so, I show that critics have (...)
  36. The Methods of Ethics.Henry Sidgwick.J. S. Mackenzie - 1894 - International Journal of Ethics 4 (4):512-514.
  37. Extrinsic Value and the Separability of Reasons.Barry Maguire - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 6.
    This paper presents a puzzle for Act Consequentialists who do not want to shoot Pelé. The puzzle arises from cases involving the promotion of virtue, and motivates a systematic restriction on the separability of reasons.
  38. Completeness as an Ideal for Moral Theory.Sean David Mckeever - 2001 - Dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Must an acceptable moral theory be systematic and complete? Most philosophers agree we have no such theory now---at least not one which is plausible in other respects. But perhaps we should strive for such a theory and regard our current incomplete theories as at best useful stepping stones. Some theories, such as hedonistic utilitarianism, hold out the promise of being complete: provided all the empirical facts one could, in principle, determine whether any given act was right or not. Other theoretical (...)
  39. Consequentialism, Incoherence and Choice.Robert McKim - 1992 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 66 (1):93-98.
  40. The Economic Uses of Utilitarianism.James A. Mirrlees - 1982 - In Amartya Kumar Sen & Bernard Arthur Owen Williams (eds.), Utilitarianism and Beyond. Cambridge University Press. pp. 77--81.
  41. Juvalta, Erminio and Utilitarianism.M. Mori - 1986 - Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 41 (3):597-618.
  42. Revisiting Williams on Integrity.Daniel D. Moseley - 2014 - Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (1):53-68.
    I reconstruct Bernard Williams’ integrity-based critique of Act-Utilitarianism (AU). I contend that Williams presents a compelling argument against AU, but the argument does not generalize to all impartial moral theories. I argue that Williams’ conception of personal integrity as the pursuit of one’s projects presents a strong objection to AU and it reveals the importance of widening the scope of morality to include considerations of partial inter-personal relations. I also contend that Williams’ conception of integrity can withstand the scrutiny brought (...)
  43. Methods of Ethics:Wide Reflective Equilibrium and a Kind of Consequentialism.Kai Nielsen - 1994 - Journal of Social Philosophy 25 (2):57-72.
  44. Mill and the Gorgias.David A. Nordquest - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (1):19-27.
    John Stuart Mill thought himself more indebted to Plato for his mental culture than to any other author. A study of his Gorgias translation and notes shows that arguments in On Liberty and Utilitarianism for individuality, freedom of discussion and the superiority of higher pleasures were probably shaped by that dialogue.
  45. Self and Others: The Inadequacy of Utilitarianism.Richard Norman - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 5:181.
  46. Self and Others: The Inadequacy of Utilitarianism.Richard Norman - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (sup1):181-201.
  47. Utilitarianism and Religion. [REVIEW]Victor Nuovo - 1999 - Enlightenment and Dissent 18:260-263.
  48. Ingmar Persson, From Morality to the End of Reason (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Pp. 336. [REVIEW]Sven Nyholm - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (3):321-325.
    Persson argues that common sense morality involves various “asymmetries” that don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. (One example is that intentionally harming others is commonly thought to be worse than merely allowing harm to happen, even if the harm involved is equal in both cases.) A wholly rational morality would, Persson argues, be wholly symmetrical. He also argues, however, that when we get down to our most basic attitudes and dispositions, we reach the “end of reason,” at which point we (...)
  49. David Ross, Ideal Utilitarianism, and the Intrinsic Value of Acts.Francesco Orsi - 2012 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 1 (2).
    The denial of the intrinsic value of acts apart from both motives and consequences lies at the heart of Ross’s deontology and his opposition to ideal utilitarianism. Moreover, the claim that acts can have intrinsic value is a staple element of early and contemporary attempts to “consequentialise” all of morality. I first show why Ross’s denial is relevant both for his philosophy and for current debates. Then I consider and reject as inconclusive some of Ross’s explicit and implicit motivations for (...)
  50. Caring Beings and the Immanence of Value: An Inquiry Into the Foundations of Interpersonal Morality.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    By what authority does morality make its demands? In this essay I argue that we find that authority within ourselves, immanent to - not necessarily the character - but the very fact of our own self-concern.
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