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. 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 (...)
  3. 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 (...)
  4. Common-Sense Morality and Consequentialism.R. W. Beardsmore - 1986 - Philosophical Books 27 (2):116-118.
  5. Review: The Limits of Utilitarianism and Beyond. [REVIEW]H. A. Bedau - 1985 - Ethics 95 (2):333 - 341.
  6. Utilitarianism: Restorations, Repairs, Renovations.David Braybrooke - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (1):121-124.
  7. 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 (...)
  8. 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 (...)
  9. Utilitarianism and Co-Operation.David Copp & Donald H. Regan - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (4):617.
  10. The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism.James E. Crimmins (ed.) - forthcoming - Bloomsbury Academic.
  11. Utilitarianism and Accomplishment Revisited.R. Crisp - 2001 - Analysis 61 (2):162-164.
  12. Utilitarianism and Accomplishment.R. Crisp - 2000 - Analysis 60 (3):264-268.
  13. Utilitarianism: A Coffeehouse Conversation.Paul Davis - 2006 - Think 4 (12):107-110.
    Some classic criticisms of utilitarianism explored.
  14. Towards a Credible Act-Utilitarianism.Eric Dayton - 1979 - American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1):61 - 66.
  15. What Matters and How It Matters: A Choice-Theoretic Representation of Moral Theories.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
    We present a new “reason-based” approach to the formal representation of moral theories, drawing on recent decision-theoretic work. We show that any moral theory within a very large class can be represented in terms of two parameters: a specification of which properties of the objects of moral choice matter in any given context, and a specification of how these properties matter. Reason-based representations provide a very general taxonomy of moral theories, as differences among theories can be attributed to differences in (...)
  16. Against the Leveling of Virtue: Essentials of a Consequentialist Account.David Elliott - 1999 - Journal of Social Philosophy 30 (1):65-82.
  17. Review: Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism. [REVIEW]Richard E. Flathman - 1966 - Ethics 76 (4):309 - 317.
  18. Modern Utilitarianism.James Griffin - 1982 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 36 (3):331.
  19. Is Utilitarianism Useless?Daniel M. Hausman - 1991 - Theory and Decision 30 (3):273-278.
  20. 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: The Korean Association of Ethics 1 (86):27-53.
  21. The Literary Opposition to Utilitarianism.Granville Hicks - 1937 - Science and Society 1 (4):454 - 472.
  22. Utilitarianism.A. L. Hodder - 1892 - Ethics 3 (1):90.
  23. 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 (...)
  24. Elbow-Room for Consequentialists.Frances Howard-Snyder - 1992 - Analysis 52 (4):249 - 253.
  25. The Numbers Problem.Hsieh Nien-hê, Strudler Alan & Wasserman David - 2006 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (4):352-372.
  26. Contemporary Debates in Moral Theories.Dreier Jamie (ed.) - 2006 - Blackwell.
  27. Collaboration and Responsibility.F. M. Kamm - 2000 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (3):169-204.
  28. Consequentialism.Irfan Khawaja - 2005 - Teaching Philosophy 28 (3):281-284.
  29. 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 (...)
  30. The Methods of Ethics.Henry Sidgwick.J. S. Mackenzie - 1894 - International Journal of Ethics 4 (4):512-514.
  31. 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 (...)
  32. Consequentialism, Incoherence and Choice.Robert McKim - 1992 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 66 (1):93-98.
  33. 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.
  34. Global Ethics: The Challenge of Loyalty Traditional Utilitarian Consequentialism and Deontology.T. Mooney - 2011 - Ethics Education 17 (1).
  35. Juvalta, Erminio and Utilitarianism.M. Mori - 1986 - Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 41 (3):597-618.
  36. Methods of Ethics:Wide Reflective Equilibrium and a Kind of Consequentialism.Kai Nielsen - 1994 - Journal of Social Philosophy 25 (2):57-72.
  37. 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.
  38. Self and Others: The Inadequacy of Utilitarianism.Richard Norman - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 5:181.
  39. Self and Others: The Inadequacy of Utilitarianism.Richard Norman - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (sup1):181-201.
  40. Utilitarianism and Religion. [REVIEW]Victor Nuovo - 1999 - Enlightenment and Dissent 18:260-263.
  41. 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 (...)
  42. David Ross, Ideal Utilitarianism, and the Intrinsic Value of Acts.Francesco Orsi - 2012 - Journal for the History of Analytic 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 (...)
  43. Caring Beings and the Immanence of Value: An Inquiry Into the Foundations of Interpersonal Morality.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In this paper I argue that all authentic valuing arises from the caring of caring beings. Interpersonal morality has its basis in the recognition that all caring beings deserve to be respected in their caring, a recognition we cannot but arrive at (if we are honest) upon reflection on the demand for respect made by our own caring nature.
  44. A Question for Tomorrow: The Robust Demands of the Good.Philip Pettit - 2012 - Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 7 (3):7-12.
  45. A Note on the "Proof" of Utility in J. S. Mill.Richard H. Popkin - 1950 - Ethics 61 (1):66-68.
  46. Generalized Act Utilitarianism.B. C. Postow - 1977 - Analysis 37 (2):49 - 52.
  47. Bentham on Mensuration: Calculation and Moral Reasoning.Michael Quinn - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (1):61-104.
    This article argues that Bentham was committed to attempting to measure the outcomes of rules by calculating the values of the pains and pleasures to which they gave rise. That pleasure was preferable to pain, and greater pleasure to less, were, for Bentham, foundational premises of rationality, whilst to abjure calculation was to abjure rationality. However, Bentham knew that the experience of pleasure and pain, the ‘simple’ entities which provided his objective moral standard, was not only subjective, and only indirectly (...)
  48. A Refutation of Utilitarianism.Tom Regan - 1983 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 13 (2):141 - 159.
  49. How To Calculate The Utility Of Human Germline Gene Transformations? A Critique Of Utilitarianism.Maurizio Salvi - 1997 - Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 7 (2):36-38.
  50. Being Good by Doing Good: Goodness and the Evaluation of Persons.Andreas T. Schmidt - 2017 - Utilitas 29 (1):3-26.
    Does doing good in itself make one a better person? This idea is intuitive yet its precise formulation underexplored. This article first shows that it is not the case that a person is good to the extent that her existence brings about good or to the extent that her actions do good. A proportional principle that evaluates a person according to the expected goodness of her actual course of action relative to the expected goodness of other available courses is shown (...)
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