About this topic
Summary Consequentialism comes in several different varieties. Besides some of the more well-known varieties (such as rule-consequentialism, satisficing consequentialism, subjective consequentialism, and agent-relative consequentialism), there are several lesser known varieties: such as virtue consequentialism (Bradley 2005), combinative consequentialism (Gustafsson 2014), progressive consequentialism (Jamieson & Elliot 2009), multiple-act consequentialism (Mendola 2006), multi-dimensional consequentialism (Peterson 2013), attitude-consequentialism (Portmore manuscript), person-based consequentialism (Roberts 2003), commonsense consequentialism (Portmore 2011), global consequentialism (Pettit & Smith 2000), justicized consequentialism (Wigley 2012), and more -- scroll below.
Key works See above.
Introductions Two good introductions to the many varieties of consequentialism are Portmore 2011 and Brink 2005.
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132 found
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1 — 50 / 132
  1. Consequentialism, Time, and Value.David Killoren - manuscript
    Is consequentialism consistent with common-sense morality? I argue for a negative answer to this question. In Sections 1-4, I develop and defend a definition for “consequentialism.” In Section 5, I attempt to show that, given this definition, consequentialism and common-sense morality cannot be reconciled. In Section 6, I argue that, on the definition of consequentialism I defend, consequentialism should be understood, not as a view about the relationship between the deontic and the evaluative (as many philosophers suppose), but as a (...)
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  2. Consequentialism and Coordination Problems.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    Imagine both that (1) S1 is deliberating at t about whether or not to x at t' and that (2) although S1’s x-ing at t' would not itself have good consequences, good consequences would ensue if both S1 x's at t' and S2 y's at t", where S1 may or may not be identical to S2 and where t < t' ≤ t". In this paper, I consider how consequentialists should treat S2 and the possibility that S2 will y at (...)
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  3. Foundational Consequentialism and Its Primary Evaluative Focal Point.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    Following Shelly Kagan’s useful terminology, foundational consequentialists are those who hold that the ranking of outcomes is at the foundation of all moral assessment. That is, they hold that moral assessments of right and wrong, virtuous and vicious, morally good and morally bad, etc. are all ultimately a function of how outcomes rank. But foundational consequentialists disagree on what is to be directly evaluated in terms of the ranking of outcomes, which is to say that they disagree on what the (...)
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  4. How to Be a Consequentialist About Everything.Toby Ord - 2008
    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 (...)
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  5. Precis of Commonsense Consequentialism and Replies to Gert, Hurley, and Tenenbaum.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    For a symposium on Douglas W. Portmore's Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality.
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  6. Review of Martin Peterson's The Dimensions of Consequentialism. [REVIEW]Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.
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  7. Ethical Theories as Methods of Ethics.Jussi Suikkanen - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics.
    This chapter presents a new argument for thinking of traditional ethical theories as methods that can be used in first-order ethics - as a kind of deliberation procedures rather than as criteria of right and wrong. It begins from outlining how ethical theories, such as consequentialism and contractualism, are flexible frameworks in which different versions of these theories can be formulated to correspond to different first-order ethical views. The chapter then argues that, as a result, the traditional ethical theories cannot (...)
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  8. Is Global Consequentialism More Expressive Than Act Consequentialism?Elliott Thornley - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Act consequentialism states that an act is right iff the expected value of its outcome is at least as great as the expected value of any other act’s outcome. Two objections to this view are as follows. The first is that act consequentialism cannot account for our normative ambivalence in cases where agents perform the right act out of bad motives. The second is that act consequentialism is silent on questions of character: questions like ‘What are the right motives to (...)
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  9. Norcross, Alastair. Morality by Degrees: Reasons Without Demands. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. Pp. 176. $50.00 (Cloth). [REVIEW]Richard Yetter Chappell - 2021 - Ethics 131 (3):620-624.
  10. The Self-Effacing Functionality of Blame.Matthieu Queloz - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1361-1379.
    This paper puts forward an account of blame combining two ideas that are usually set up against each other: that blame performs an important function, and that blame is justified by the moral reasons making people blameworthy rather than by its functionality. The paper argues that blame could not have developed in a purely instrumental form, and that its functionality itself demands that its functionality be effaced in favour of non-instrumental reasons for blame—its functionality is self-effacing. This notion is sharpened (...)
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  11. Consequentialism and Robust Goods.Vuko Andrić - 2019 - Utilitas 31 (3):334-342.
    In this article, I critique the moral theory developed in Philip Pettit's The Robust Demands of the Good: Ethics with Attachment, Virtue, and Respect. Pettit's theory, which I label Robust-Goods Consequentialism, aims to avoid the problems but retain the attractive features of traditional consequentialist theories. The distinctive feature of Robust-Goods Consequentialism is a value theory that attempts to accommodate what Pettit calls rich goods: certain moral phenomena that can be categorized under the headings of attachment, virtue and respect. I argue (...)
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  12. Willpower Satisficing.Richard Yetter Chappell - 2019 - Noûs 53 (2):251-265.
    Satisficing Consequentialism is often rejected as hopeless. Perhaps its greatest problem is that it risks condoning the gratuitous prevention of goodness above the baseline of what qualifies as "good enough". I propose a radical new willpower-based version of the view that avoids this problem, and that better fits with the motivation of avoiding an excessively demanding conception of morality. I further demonstrate how, by drawing on the resources of an independent theory of blameworthiness, we may obtain a principled specification of (...)
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  13. The World Destruction Argument.Simon Knutsson - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    The most common argument against negative utilitarianism is the world destruction argument, according to which negative utilitarianism implies that if someone could kill everyone or destroy the world, it would be her duty to do so. Those making the argument often endorse some other form of consequentialism, usually traditional utilitarianism. It has been assumed that negative utilitarianism is less plausible than such other theories partly because of the world destruction argument. So, it is thought, someone who finds theories in the (...)
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  14. Spinozian Consequentialism of Ethics of Social Consequences.Michaela Petrufová Joppová - 2018 - Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe) 8 (1-2):41-50.
    The present article deals with specific normative concepts of Spinoza’s ethical system and compares them to certain aspects of the theory of ethics of social consequences. At first, a way to approach the problem of normativity in Spinoza is presented, concentrating on the obligatory character of rational - or intellectual - motives. Then, theoretical evidence is presented which links Spinoza to normative-ethical consequentialism. The basis for a consequentialist model of Spinoza’s ethics is the concept of perfection, and on this basis (...)
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  15. Does ‘Ought’ Imply ‘Might’? How (Not) to Resolve the Conflict Between Act and Motive Utilitarianism.James Skidmore - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):207-221.
    Utilitarianism has often been understood as a theory that concerns itself first and foremost with the rightness of actions; but many other things are also properly subject to moral evaluation, and utilitarians have long understood that the theory must be able to provide an account of these as well. In a landmark article from 1976, Robert Adams argues that traditional act utilitarianism faces a particular problem in this regard. He argues that a on a sensible utilitarian account of the rightness (...)
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  16. Love in the Time of Consequentialism.Barry Maguire - 2017 - Noûs 51 (4):686-712.
    There are several powerful motivations for neutral value-based deontic theories such as Act Consequentialism. Traditionally, such theories have had great difficulty accounting for partiality towards one's personal relationships and projects. This paper presents a neutral value-based theory that preserves the motivations for Act Consequentialism while vindicating some crucial intuitions about reasons to be partial. There are two central ideas. The first is that when it comes to working out what you ought to do, your friends’ interests, the needs of your (...)
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  17. Review of Allen W. Wood's "Fichte's Ethical Thought". [REVIEW]Nedim Nomer - 2017 - Ethics 127 (4):972-978.
  18. Multi-Dimensional Consequentialism and Degrees of Rightness.Vuko Andrić & Attila Tanyi - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (3):711-731.
    In his recent book, The Dimensions of Consequentialism, Martin Peterson puts forward a new version of consequentialism that he dubs ‘multidimensional consequentialism’. The defining thesis of the new theory is that there are irreducible moral aspects that jointly determine the deontic status of an act. In defending his particular version of multidimensional consequentialism, Peterson advocates the thesis—he calls it DEGREE—that if two or more moral aspects clash, the act under consideration is right to some non-extreme degree. This goes against the (...)
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  19. Can Consequentialism Require Selfishness?Ryan W. Davis - 2016 - Journal of Philosophical Research 41:239-262.
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  20. The Dimensions of Consequentialism: Reply to Schmidt, Brown, Howard-Snyder, Crisp, Andric and Tanyi, and Gertken.Martin Peterson - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (1):71-82.
    In this article I respond to comments and objections raised in the special issue on my book The Dimensions of Consequentialism. I defend my multi-dimensional consequentialist theory against a range of challenges articulated by Thomas Schmidt, Campbell Brown, Frances Howard-Snyder, Roger Crisp, Vuko Andric and Attila Tanyi, and Jan Gertken. My aim is to show that multi-dimensional consequentialism is, at least, a coherent and intuitively plausible alternative to one-dimensional theories such as utilitarianism, prioritarianism, and mainstream accounts of egalitarianism. I am (...)
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  21. Beyond Consequentialism, by Paul Hurley. [REVIEW]Alan Thomas - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (262):208-212.
  22. Variabilism Is Not the Solution to the Asymmetry.Per Algander - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):1-9.
    According to “the asymmetry”, the fact that a future person would have a life not worth living counts against bringing that person into existence but the fact that a future person would have a life worth living does not count in favour of bringing that person into existence. While this asymmetry seems intuitive, it is also puzzling: if we think that it is of moral importance to prevent people from living lives not worth living, shouldn't we also that it is (...)
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  23. Aggregative Consequentialism.Roger Chao - 2015 - Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (2):125-136.
    One of the major arguments against Act consequentialism is that it has counterintuitive implications in many kinds of cases. One of the methods of avoiding these counterintuitive verdicts is through the use of a “Generalization Argument” such as that proposed by Marcus Singer in his (1961) book Generalization in Ethics, which is intended to be an improved version of the traditional “What if everyone did that?” approach to moral theory. This Generalization Argument, however, also has counterintuitive implications due to over-generalizing. (...)
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  24. What If I Cannot Make a Difference (and Know It).Felix Pinkert - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):971-998.
    When several agents together produce suboptimal outcomes, yet no individual could have made a difference for the better, Act Consequentialism counterintuitively judges that all involved agents act rightly. I address this problem by supplementing Act Consequentialism with a requirement of modal robustness: Agents not only ought to produce best consequences in the actual world, but they also ought to be such that they would act optimally in certain counterfactual scenarios. I interpret this Modally Robust Act Consequentialism as Act Consequentialism plus (...)
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  25. A Defence of Average Utilitarianism.Michael Pressman - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (4):389-424.
    Seemingly every theory of population ethics is confronted with unpalatable implications. While various approaches to the subject have been taken, including non-consequentialist approaches, this area has been dominated by utilitarian thought. The two main approaches to population ethics have been total utilitarianism () and average utilitarianism (). According to TU, we should seek to bring about the state of affairs that maximizes the total amount of happiness. According to AU, we should seek to bring about the state of affairs that (...)
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  26. Meaning in Consequences.Mark Wells - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy of Life 5 (3):169-179.
    This paper aims to respond on behalf of consequentialist theories of meaning in life to criticisms raised by Thaddeus Metz and, in doing so, demonstrates how the debate over theories of meaning in life might make progress. By using conceptual resources developed for consequentialist theories of morality, I argue that Metz’s general arguments against consequentialist theories of meaning in life fail. That is, some consequentialist theories can accommodate Metz’s criticisms. However, using conceptual resources developed in debate concerning consequentialist theories of (...)
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  27. Ein Plädoyer für den Rechtsnormen-Konsequentialismus.Vuko Andrić & Martin Kerz - 2014 - Archiv Für Rechts- Und Sozialphilosophie. Beihef 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 (...)
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  28. Combinative Consequentialism and the Problem of Act Versions.Johan E. Gustafsson - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):585-596.
    In the 1960’s, Lars Bergström and Hector-Neri Castañeda noticed a problem with alternative acts and consequentialism. The source of the problem is that some performable acts are versions of other performable acts and the versions need not have the same consequences as the originals. Therefore, if all performable acts are among the agent’s alternatives, act consequentialism yields deontic paradoxes. A standard response is to restrict the application of act consequentialism to certain relevant alternative sets. Many proposals are based on some (...)
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  29. 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 (...)
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  30. Consequentialism, War, and National Defense.William H. Shaw - 2014 - Journal of International Political Theory 10 (1):20-37.
    What, if anything, grounds the right of national defense? This essay explicates and defends a consequentialist answer to that question. After explaining the relevance and importance of this project, I clarify the meaning of consequentialism and explain how consequentialists understand and justify rights, including the right of national defense. International law enshrines that right. After explaining why it is correct to do so and why that right should be upheld, I examine some issues that this right leaves unsettled and probe (...)
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  31. Consequentialist Options.Jussi Suikkanen - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (3):276-302.
    According to traditional forms of act-consequentialism, an action is right if and only if no other action in the given circumstances would have better consequences. It has been argued that this view does not leave us enough freedom to choose between actions which we intuitively think are morally permissible but not required options. In the first half of this article, I will explain why the previous consequentialist responses to this objection are less than satisfactory. I will then attempt to show (...)
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  32. Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions.Selim Berker - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (3):337-393.
    When it comes to epistemic normativity, should we take the good to be prior to the right? That is, should we ground facts about what we ought and ought not believe on a given occasion in facts about the value of being in certain cognitive states (such as, for example, the value of having true beliefs)? The overwhelming answer among contemporary epistemologists is “Yes, we should.” This essay argues to the contrary. Just as taking the good to be prior to (...)
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  33. Dimensions of Consequentialism: Ethics, Equality, and Risk. [REVIEW]Michael Cholbi - 2013 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2013:1-2.
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  34. Should Utilitarianism Be Scalar?Gerald Lang - 2013 - Utilitas 25 (1):80-95.
    Scalar utilitarianism, a form of utilitarianism advocated by Alastair Norcross, retains utilitarianism's evaluative commitments while dispensing with utilitarianism's deontic commitments, or its commitment to the existence or significance of moral duties, obligations and requirements. This article disputes the effectiveness of the arguments that have been used to defend scalar utilitarianism. It is contended that Norcross's central ‘Persuasion Argument’ does not succeed, and it is suggested, more positively, that utilitarians cannot easily distance themselves from deontic assessment, just as long as scalar (...)
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  35. The Dimensions of Consequentialism: Ethics, Equality and Risk.Martin Peterson - 2013 - Cambridge University Press.
    Consequentialism, one of the major theories of normative ethics, maintains that the moral rightness of an act is determined solely by the act's consequences and its alternatives. The traditional form of consequentialism is one-dimensional, in that the rightness of an act is a function of a single moral aspect, such as the sum total of wellbeing it produces. In this book Martin Peterson introduces a new type of consequentialist theory: multidimensional consequentialism. According to this theory, an act's moral rightness depends (...)
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  36. Goodness and Justice. [REVIEW]Ben Bradley - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):233-243.
    In Goodness and Justice, Joseph Mendola defends three related views in normative ethics: a novel form of consequentialism, a Bentham-style hedonism about “basic” value, and a maximin principle about the value of a world. In defending these views he draws on his views in metaethics, action theory, and the philosophy of mind. It is an ambitious and wide-ranging book. I begin with a quick explanation of Mendola’s views, and then raise some problems.
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  37. Deep Down: Consequentialist Assumptions Underlying Policy Differences.Zeljka Buturovic - 2012 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 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 (...)
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  38. Fittingness: The Sole Normative Primitive.Richard Yetter Chappell - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):684 - 704.
    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 (...)
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  39. Ethics of Social Consequences – Methodology of Bioethics Education.Vasil Gluchman - 2012 - Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe) 2 (1-2):16-27.
    Ethics of social consequences as a form of satisficing non-utilitarian consequentialism can be one of the methodological basis of bioethics education. The primary values in ethics of social consequences are humanity, human dignity and moral rights, which are developed and realized in correlation with positive social consequences. Secondary values in ethics of social consequences include justice, responsibility, moral duty and tolerance. The author analyses human dignity and humanity as principles of bioethics education.
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  40. Vasil Gluchman Et Al. (2011): Hodnoty V Etike Sociálnych Dôsledkov, Prešov: Grafotlač Prešov. [REVIEW]Júlia Klembarová - 2012 - Ethics and Bioethics (in Central Europe) 2 (1-2):118-121.
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  41. Multi-Dimensional Consequentialism.Martin Peterson - 2012 - Ratio 25 (2):177-194.
    This article introduces and explores a distinction between multi-dimensional and one-dimensional consequentialist moral theories. One-dimensional consequentialists believe that an act's deontic status depends on just one aspect of the act, such as the sum total of wellbeing it produces, or the sum total of priority- or equality-adjusted wellbeing. Multi-dimensional consequentialists believe that an act's deontic status depends on more than one aspect. They may, for instance, believe that the sum total of wellbeing produced by an act and the degree to (...)
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  42. Justicized Consequentialism: Prioritizing the Right or the Good?Simon Wigley - 2012 - Journal of Value Inquiry 46 (4):467-479.
    A standard criticism of act-utilitarianism is that it is only indirectly concerned with the distribution of welfare between individuals and, therefore, does not take adequate account of the separateness between individuals. In response a number of philosophers have argued that act-utilitarianism is only vulnerable to that objection because it adheres to a theory of the good which ignores non-welfarist sources of intrinsic value such as justice. Fred Feldman, for example, argues that intrinsic value is independently generated by the receipt of (...)
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  43. Character Consequentialism: Confucianism, Buddhism and Mill.Joshua Anderson - 2011 - Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion 16:138-153.
    When discussing Eastern philosophy there is often a difficulty since characteristically Eastern ways of thinking do not map well onto Western philosophic categories. Yet, P. J. Ivanhoe suggests that a careful reading of Confucianism can illuminate and expand Western approaches to ethics. Ivanhoe maintains that the best way to understand Confucian ethics is as a hybrid of virtue ethics and consequentialism, a view he calls character consequentialism (CC). The paper will progress in the following way. First, I present Ivanhoe’s conception (...)
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  44. 7 Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2011 - In Christian Miller (ed.), Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum. pp. 143.
    A general introduction to consequentialism.
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  45. Consequentialism and Permissibility.Brian Mcelwee - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (2):171-183.
    Scalar consequentialism, recently championed by Alastair Norcross, holds that the value of an action varies according to the goodness of its consequences, but eschews all judgements of moral permissibility and impermissibility. I show that the strongest version of scalar consequentialism is not vulnerable to the objection that it is insufficiently action-guiding. Instead, the principle objection to the scalar view is simply that it leaves out important and interesting ethical judgements. In demonstrating this, I counter Rob Lawlor's contention that consequentialists cannot (...)
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  46. Can Consequentialists Honour the Special Moral Status of Persons?Martin Peterson - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (4):434-446.
    It is widely believed that consequentialists are committed to the claim that persons are mere containers for well-being. In this article I challenge this view by proposing a new version of consequentialism, according to which the identities of persons matter. The new theory, two-dimensional prioritarianism, is a natural extension of traditional prioritarianism. Two-dimensional prioritarianism holds that wellbeing matters more for persons who are at a low absolute level than for persons who are at a higher level and that it is (...)
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  47. Hierarchical Consequentialism.Re'em Segev - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (3):309-330.
    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 (...)
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  48. Measuring the Consequences of Rules: Holly M. Smith.Holly M. Smith - 2010 - Utilitas 22 (4):413-433.
    Recently two distinct forms of rule-utilitarianism have been introduced that differ on how to measure the consequences of rules. Brad Hooker advocates fixed-rate rule-utilitarianism, while Michael Ridge advocates variable-rate rule-utilitarianism. I argue that both of these are inferior to a new proposal, optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism. According to optimum-rate rule-utilitarianism, an ideal code is the code whose optimum acceptance level is no lower than that of any alternative code. I then argue that all three forms of rule-utilitarianism fall prey to two fatal (...)
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  49. The Incoherence Objection in Moral Theory.Eric Wiland - 2010 - Acta Analytica 25 (3):279-284.
    J.J.C. Smart famously complained that rule utilitarianism is incoherent, and that rule utilitarians are guilty of rule worship . Much has been said about whether Smart’s complaint is justified, but I will assume for the sake of argument that Smart was on to something. Instead, I have three other goals. First, I want to show that Smart’s complaint is a specific instance of a more general objection to a moral theory—what I will call the Incoherence Objection. Second, I want to (...)
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  50. Joseph Mendola, Goodness and Justice: A Consequentialist Moral Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Pp. IX + 326.David Cummiskey - 2009 - Utilitas 21 (4):521-525.
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