Normative Ethics > Consequentialism > Varieties of Consequentialism > Objective and Subjective Consequentialism
Edited by Douglas W. Portmore (Arizona State University)
|Summary||On objective consequentialism, the permissibility of S's X-ing (where S is a subject and X is an act) depends solely on the facts and not at all on what S's evidence is. More specifically, it depends on facts concerning the possible outcomes associated with X and its alternatives. Now, if determinism is true, there is, for each act, only one possible outcome. But if indeterminism is true, then there may be no determinate fact about what X's outcome would be. Instead, there would be only a probability distribution over the possible outcomes associated with S's X-ing. In contrast to objective consequentialism, subjective consequentialism holds that the permissibility of S's X-ing depends not on the facts but on S's evidences concerning possible outcomes. To illustrate, suppose that someone has shaken a die in a cup and has then inverted the cup onto the table top. Underneath the cup the die lies with the six side facing up. But I don't know this. Now if I pay six dollars, I can have the cup removed. And if the cup is removed to reveal a six facing up, I will win twelve dollars and double my money. If I don't pay six dollars, I can win nothing. If I pay six dollars, and something other than a six is revealed, I lose my six dollars. According to objective consequentialism, I should pay six dollars to play the game. For if I do, I will win twelve dollars and double my money. According to subjective consequentialism, I should not pay six dollars to play the game. Given that I don't know what side of the die faces up, I can only assume that there is, given my evidence, a one-in-six chance that a six will be revealed. But a 1-in-6 chance at twelve dollars isn't worth six dollars; it's worth only two dollars. Thus, according to subjective consequentialism, I shouldn't pay six dollars to play this game.|
|Key works||The classic piece on this is Jackson 1991. Some other very important papers are Carlson 1999, Howard-Snyder 1997, Wiland 2005, and Feldman 2006.|
|Introductions||Jackson 1991 in conjunction with Feldman 2006 provides a nice overview of the main issues.|
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