Consequentialism is often criticised as being overly demanding, and this overdemandingness is seen as sufficient to reject it as a moral theory. This paper takes the plausibility and coherence of this objection – the Demandingness Objection – as a given. Our question, therefore, is how to respond to the Objection. We put forward a response that we think has not received sufficient attention in the literature: institutional consequentialism. On this view institutions take over the consequentialist burden, whereas individuals, special occasions (...) aside, are required to set up and maintain institutions. We first introduce the Objection, then explain the theory of institutional consequentialism and how it responds to the Objection. In the remainder of the paper, we defend the view against potential challenges. (shrink)
Over the last few decades, there has been an increasing interest in global consequentialism. Where act-consequentialism assesses acts in terms of their consequences, global consequentialism goes much further, assessing acts, rules, motives — and everything else — in terms of the relevant consequences. Compared to act-consequentialism it offers a number of advantages: it is more expressive, it is a simpler theory, and it captures some of the benefits of ruleconsequentialism without the corresponding drawbacks. In this paper, I explore the four (...) different approaches to global consequentialism made by Parfit, Pettit and Smith, Kagan, and Feldman. I break these up into their constituent components, demonstrating the space of possible global consequentialist theories, and I present two new theories within this space. (shrink)
Rule consequentialism is usually taken to recommend a single ideal code for all moral agents. Here I argue that, depending on their theoretical mo- tivations, some rule consequentialists have good reasons to be relativists. Rule consequentialists who are moved by consequentialist considerations ought to support a scheme of multiple relativized moral codes because we could expect such a scheme to have better consequences in terms of impartial aggregate well- being than a single universal code. Rule consequentialists who nd compelling the (...) theory’s coherence with our considered moral intuitions should do the same because a scheme of multiple codes could better cohere with our intuitions about costless bene ts, though these intuitions must be weighed against our allegiance to moral universalism. (shrink)
Effective Altruism is a rapidly growing and influential contemporary philosophical movement committed to updating utilitarianism in both theory and practice. The movement focuses on identifying urgent but neglected causes and inspiring supererogatory giving to meet the need. It also tries to build a broader coalition by adopting a more ecumenical approach to ethics which recognizes a wide range of values and moral constraints. These interesting developments distinguish Effective Altruism from the utilitarianism of the past in ways that invite cooperation and (...) warrant a fresh look from Thomists. Nonetheless Effective Altruism’s fundamentally consequentialist and aggregative model for ethics precludes more foundational agreement with Thomistic ethics in ways that limit the extent of practical cooperation. (shrink)
I develop and defend a maximizing theory of moral motivation: I claim that consequentialists should recommend only those desires, emotions, and dispositions that will make the outcome best. I advance a conservative account of the motives that are possible for us; I say that a motive is an alternative if and only if it is in our psychological control. The resulting theory is less demanding than its competitors. It also permits us to maintain many of the motivations that we value (...) most, including our love for those most important to us. I conclude that we are closer to meeting morality’s demands on our character than has been appreciated. (shrink)
Consequentialists say we may always promote the good. Deontologists object: not if that means killing one to save five. “Consequentializers” reply: this act is wrong, but it is not for the best, since killing is worse than letting die. I argue that this reply undercuts the “compellingness” of consequentialism, which comes from an outcome-based view of action that collapses the distinction between killing and letting die.
Consequentialism is a focal point of discussion and a driving force behind important developments in moral philosophy. Recently, the debate has shifted in focus and in style. By seeking to consequentialize rival moral theories, in particular those with agent-relative characteristics, and by framing accounts in terms of reasons rather than in terms of value, an emerging new wave consequentialism has presented - at much higher levels of abstraction - theories which proved extremely flexible and powerful in meeting long-standing and influential (...) objections. This volume of new essays on new wave consequentialism initiates and stimulates novel lines of discussions among proponents and their critics. The contributions explore new directions in new wave consequentialism and present refined conceptual frameworks (in Part I), raise challenging fundamental problems for these frameworks and the new wave's theoretical basis (in Part II), and give a balanced assessment of the new wave's limits and achievements in specific contexts of commonsense moral practice (in Part III). (shrink)
Elsewhere we have responded to the so-called demandingness objection to consequentialism – that consequentialism is excessively demanding and is therefore unacceptable as a moral theory – by introducing the theoretical position we call institutional consequentialism. This is a consequentialist view that, however, requires institutional systems, and not individuals, to follow the consequentialist principle. In this paper, we first introduce and explain the theory of institutional consequentialism and the main reasons that support it. In the remainder of the paper, we turn (...) to the global dimension where the first and foremost challenge is to explain how institutional consequentialism can deal with unsolved global problems such as poverty, war and climate change. In response, following the general idea of institutional consequentialism, we draw up three alternative routes: relying on existing national, transnational and supranational institutions; promoting gradual institutional reform; and advocating radical changes to the status quo. We evaluate these routes by describing normatively relevant properties of the existing global institutional system, as well as by showing what institutional consequentialism can say about alternatives to it: a world government; and multi-layered sovereignty/neo-medieval system. (shrink)
Decisions, whether moral or prudential, should be guided at least in part by considerations of the consequences that would result from the various available actions. For any given action, however, the majority of its consequences are unpredictable at the time of decision. Many have worried that this leaves us, in some important sense, clueless. In this paper, I distinguish between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ possible sources of cluelessness. In terms of this taxonomy, the majority of the existing literature on cluelessness focusses (...) on the simple sources. I argue, contra James Lenman in particular, that these would-be sources of cluelessness are unproblematic, on the grounds that indifference-based reasoning is far less problematic than Lenman (along with many others) supposes. However, there does seem to be a genuine phenomenon of cluelessness associated with the ‘complex’ sources; here, indifference-based reasoning is inapplicable by anyone’s lights. This ‘complex problem of cluelessness’ is vivid and pressing, in particular, in the context of Effective Altruism. This motivates a more thorough examination of the precise nature of cluelessness, and the precise source of the associated phenomenology of discomfort in forced-choice situations. The latter parts of the paper make some initial explorations in those directions. (shrink)
This paper draws on the 'Fitting Attitudes' analysis of value to argue that we should take the concept of fittingness (rather than value) as our normative primitive. I will argue that the fittingness framework enhances the clarity and expressive power of our normative theorising. Along the way, we will see how the fittingness framework illuminates our understanding of various moral theories, and why it casts doubt on the Global Consequentialist idea that acts and (say) eye colours are normatively on a (...) par. We will see why even consequentialists, in taking rightness to be in some sense determined by goodness, should not think that rightness is conceptually reducible to goodness. Finally, I will use the fittingness framework to explicate the distinction between consequentialist and deontological theories, with particular attention to the contentious case of Rule Consequentialism. (shrink)
The paper considers a hierarchical theory that combines concern for two values: individual well-being – as a fundamental, first-order value – and (distributive) fairness – as a high-order value that its exclusive function is to complete the value of individual well-being by resolving internal clashes within it that occur in interpersonal conflicts. The argument for this unique conception of high-order fairness is that fairness is morally significant in itself only regarding what matters – individual well-being – and when it matters (...) – in interpersonal conflicts in which constitutive aspects of individual well-being clash. Consequently, the proposed theory is not exposed to claim that fairness comes at the expense of welfare. This theory is considered within a consequential framework, based on the standard version and, alternatively, on a novel interpretation of consequentialism. Thus, it refutes the claim that consequentialism does not take the distinction between persons seriously. (shrink)
Campbell Brown is right that my argument against semi-global consequentialism relies on the principle of agglomeration. However, semi-global consequentialists cannot rescue their view simply by rejecting this principle.
Derek Parfit, Philip Pettit and Michael Smith defend a version of consequentialism that covers everything. I argue that this version of consequentialism is false. Consequentialism, I argue, can only cover things that belong to a combination of things that agents can bring about.
I argue against the standard view that it is possible to describe extensionally different consequentialist theories by describing different evaluative focal points. I argue that for consequentialist purposes, the important sense of the word act must include all motives and side effects, and thus these things cannot be separated.