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.
Related categories

127 found
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  1. Aquinas and Modern Consequentialism.Don Adams - 2004 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (4):395 – 417.
    Because the moral philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas is egoistic while modern consequentialism is impartialistic, it might at first appear that the former cannot, while the latter can, provide a common value on the basis of which inter-personal conflicts may be settled morally. On the contrary, in this paper I intend to argue not only that Aquinas' theory does provide just such a common value, but that it is more true to say of modern consequentialism than of Thomism that it (...)
  2. 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 (...)
  3. Consequentialism and the Autonomy of the Deontic.David Alm - 2008 - Utilitas 20 (2):199-216.
    I distinguish between two forms of consequentialism: reductionist and anti-reductionist. Reductionist consequentialism holds that the deontic properties of rightness and wrongness are identical with the axiological properties of optimality and suboptimality, respectively. Anti-reductionist consequentialism denies this identification, hence accepting what I call the autonomy of the deontic. In this article I ignore reductionist consequentialism. Instead I argue that anti-reductionist consequentialism is deeply problematic or even incoherent. Simply put, the main point is that the criterion of rightness of any ethical theory (...)
  4. 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 (...)
  5. Ein Plädoyer für den Rechtsnormen-Konsequentialismus.Vuko Andrić & Martin Kerz - 2014 - Archiv für Rechts- Und Sozialphilosophie 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 (...)
  6. 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 (...)
  7. Self Torture and Group Beneficence.Frank Arntzenius & David McCarthy - 1997 - Erkenntnis 47 (1):129-144.
    Moral puzzles about actions which bring about very small or what are said to be imperceptible harms or benefits for each of a large number of people are well known. Less well known is an argument by Warren Quinn that standard theories of rationality can lead an agent to end up torturing himself or herself in a completely foreseeable way, and that this shows that standard theories of rationality need to be revised. We show where Quinn's argument goes wrong, and (...)
  8. Biocentric Consequentialism and Value-Pluralism: A Response to Alan Carter.Robin Attfield - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (1):85-92.
    My theory of biocentric consequentialism is first shown not to be significantly inegalitarian, despite not advocating treating all creatures equally. I then respond to Carter's objections concerning population, species extinctions, the supposed minimax implication, endangered interests, autonomy and thought-experiments. Biocentric consequentialism is capable of supporting a sustainable human population at a level compatible with preserving most non-human species, as opposed to catastrophic population increases or catastrophic decimation. Nor is it undermined by the mere conceivable possibility of counter-intuitive implications. While Carter (...)
  9. Biocentric Consequentialism, Pluralism, and 'The Minimax Implication': A Reply to Alan Carter.Robin Attfield - 2003 - Utilitas 15 (1):76.
    Alan Carter's recent review in Mind of my Ethics of the Global Environment combines praise of biocentric consequentialism with criticisms that it could advocate both minimal satisfaction of human needs and the extinction of for the sake of generating extra people; Carter also maintains that as a monistic theory it is predictably inadequate to cover the full range of ethical issues, since only a pluralistic theory has this capacity. In this reply, I explain how the counter-intuitive implications of biocentric consequentialism (...)
  10. 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 (...)
  11. Freedom and Binding Consequentialism.David Braddon-Mitchell - unknown
    The paper proposes a new version of direct act consequentialism that will provide the same evaluations of the rightness of acts as indirect disposition, motive or character consequentialism, thus reconciling the coherence of direct consequentialism with the plausible results in cases of indirect consequentialism. This is achieved by seeing that adopting certain kinds of moral dispositions causally constrains our future acts, so that the maximizing acts ruled out by the disposition can no longer be chosen. Thus when we act we (...)
  12. Virtue Consequentialism.Ben Bradley - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (3):282-298.
    Virtue consequentialism has been held by many prominent philosophers, but has never been properly formulated. I criticize Julia Driver's formulation of virtue consequentialism and offer an alternative. I maintain that according to the best version of virtue consequentialism, attributions of virtue are really disguised comparisons between two character traits, and the consequences of a trait in non-actual circumstances may affect its actual status as a virtue or vice. Such a view best enables the consequentialist to account for moral luck, unexemplified (...)
  13. Some Forms and Limits of Consequentialism.David O. Brink - 2005 - In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oup Usa.
    All forms of consequentialism make the moral assessment of alternatives depend in some way on the value of the alternatives, but they form a heterogeneous family of moral theories. Some employ subjective assumptions about value, while others employ objective assumptions. Some assess the value of alternatives directly, while others assess value indirectly. Some direct agents to maximize value, while others direct agents to satisfice. Some, such as utilitarianism, are impartial and concerned to promote agent-neutral value, while others, such as self-referential (...)
  14. Blameless Wrongdoing and Agglomeration: A Response to Streumer.Campbell Brown - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (2):222-225.
    Bart Streumer argues that a certain variety of consequentialism – he calls it ‘semi-global consequentialism’ – is false on account of its falsely implying the possibility of ‘blameless wrongdoing’. This article shows (i) that Streumer's argument is nothing new; (ii) that his presentation of the argument is misleading, since it suppresses a crucial premiss, commonly called ‘agglomeration’; and (iii) that, for all Streumer says, the proponent of semi-global consequentialism may easily resist his argument by rejecting agglomeration.
  15. 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 (...)
  16. Consequentialism, Alternatives, and Actualism.Erik Carlson - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 96 (3):253-268.
  17. Inegalitarian Biocentric Consequentialism, the Minimax Implication and Multidimensional Value Theory: A Brief Proposal for a New Direction in Environmental Ethics.Alan Carter - 2005 - Utilitas 17 (1):62-84.
    Perhaps the most impressive environmental ethic developed to date in any detail is Robin Attfield's biocentric consequentialism. Indeed, on first study, it appears sufficiently impressive that, before presenting any alternative theoretical approach, one would first need to establish why one should not simply embrace Attfield's. After outlining a seemingly decisive flaw in his theory, and then criticizing his response to it, this article adumbrates a very different theoretical basis for an environmental ethic: namely, a value-pluralist one. In so doing, it (...)
  18. Minimal Consequentialism.Peter Caws - 1995 - Philosophy 70 (273):313 - 339.
    In this paper I propose to set out, and argue for, a theory of what makes acts morally permissible. The claims about morality that I shall be advancing will be minimalist. By this I mean that the scope of the theory will be restricted to as small a class of acts or courses of action as possible, and its bearing on the members of that class to as narrow a range of characteristics as possible. My starting point is that, as (...)
  19. Aggregative Consequentialism.Roger Chao - 2015 - Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (2):125-136.
  20. Willpower Satisficing.Richard Yetter Chappell - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2).
    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 (...)
  21. 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 (...)
  22. Dimensions of Consequentialism: Ethics, Equality, and Risk. [REVIEW]Michael Cholbi - 2013 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2013:1-2.
  23. The Meaning of 'Good' and the Possibility of Value.Philip Clark - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (1-2):31 - 38.
    Moore held that to call something good is to ascribe a property to it. But he denied that the property could be expressed in non-evaluative terms. Can one accept this view of the meaning of good without falling into skepticism about whether anything can be, or be known to be, good? I suggest a way of doing this. The strategy combines the idea that good is semantically entangled, as opposed to semantically isolated, with the idea that rational agents have a (...)
  24. Utilitarianism and Co-Operation by Donald Reagan. [REVIEW]Earl Conee - 1983 - Journal of Philosophy 80 (7):415-424.
  25. Readjusting Utility for Justice.Dennis R. Cooley - 2000 - Journal of Philosophical Research 25:363-380.
    Despite the best efforts of utilitarians, justice remains a serious problem for consequentialism. Many counterexamples have been described which show that an agent may be obligated to do a gross injustice, according to hedonic utilitarianism, just because it maximizes utility. Fred Feldman attempts to avoid this result by adjusting utility for justice.In this paper, I examine Feldman’s axiology and his normative theory of world utilitarianism, and show that, ultimately, he is not successful in his endeavor. Though Feldman’s theories may not (...)
  26. Which Consequences Count in Consequentialism?Dennis Roger Cooley - 1995 - Dissertation, The University of Rochester
    The problem of mediated consequences is perhaps the most daunting obstacle that all utilitarian theories face. An act, A's, consequences are mediated when another agent acts as a result of action A being done. The problem is to justify when the mediated consequences should count in determining the agent's obligations and when they should not. For some utilitarian theories, an agent may fail in his moral responsibilities even if he does not realize which consequences will occur as a result of (...)
  27. Roger Crisp and Brad Hooker , Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin.G. Cullity - unknown
    Book Information Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin. Edited by Roger Crisp and Brad Hooker. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 2000. Pp. xii + 316. Hardback, £35.
  28. Well-Being and Morality: Essays in Honour of James Griffin.G. Cullity - 2002 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (4):538-540.
  29. 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.
  30. Kantian Consequentialism.David Cummiskey - 1996 - Oup Usa.
    This book attempts to derive a strong consequentialist moral theory from Kantian foundations. It thus challenges the prevailing view that Kant's moral theory is hostile to consequentialism, and brings together the two main opposing tendencies in modern moral theory.
  31. Kantian Consequentialism.David Cummiskey - 1990 - Ethics 100 (3):586-615.
    The central problem for normative ethics is the conflict between a consequentialist view--that morality requires promoting the good of all--and a belief that the rights of the individual place significant constraints on what may be done to help others. Standard interpretations see Kant as rejecting all forms of consequentialism, and defending a theory which is fundamentally duty-based and agent-centered. Certain actions, like sacrificing the innocent, are categorically forbidden. In this original and controversial work, Cummiskey argues that there is no defensible (...)
  32. Can Consequentialism Require Selfishness? In Advance.Ryan W. Davis - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Research.
  33. Course of Action Utilitarianism.Eric B. Dayton - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (4):671 - 684.
  34. Cummiskey's Kantian Consequentialism.Richard Dean - 2000 - Utilitas 12 (1):25.
    In Kantian Consequentialism, David Cummiskey argues that the central ideas of Kant's moral philosophy provide claims about value which, if applied consistently, lead to consequentialist normative principles. While Kant himself was not a consequentialist, Cummiskey thinks he should have been, given his fundamental positions in ethics. I argue that Cummiskey is mistaken. Cummiskey's argument relies on a non-Kantian idea about value, namely that value can be defined, and objects with value identified, conceptually prior to and independent of the choices that (...)
  35. Kantian Consequentialism.Lara Denis & David Cummiskey - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (1):130.
  36. Is Reliabilism a Form of Consequentialism?Jeffrey Dunn & Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Reliabilism -- the view that a belief is justified iff it is produced by a reliable process -- is often characterized as a form of consequentialism. Recently, critics of reliabilism have suggested that, since a form of consequentialism, reliabilism condones a variety of problematic trade-offs, involving cases where someone forms an epistemically deficient belief now that will lead her to more epistemic value later. In the present paper, we argue that the relevant argument against reliabilism fails because it equivocates. While (...)
  37. Reformulating Consequentialism: Railton's Normative Ethics. [REVIEW]Ben Eggleston - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 126 (3):449 - 462.
  38. Cummiskey, D.-Kantian Consequentialism.J. D. G. Evans - 1998 - Philosophical Books 39:128-129.
  39. Adjusting Utility for Justice: A Consequentialist Reply to the Objection From Justice.Fred Feldman - 1995 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (3):567-585.
  40. 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.
  41. The 'Collective' Interpretation of Utilitarian Generalization.Holly S. Goldman - 1978 - Philosophical Studies 34 (2):207 - 209.
  42. Reply to Silverstein.Holly S. Goldman - 1976 - Philosophical Studies 30 (1):57 - 61.
  43. Forms of Consequentialism. Copyright ©2003.Robert Guay - manuscript
    In consequentialist theories, the good is usually defined in non-moral terms (i.e., as that which persons in fact like, desire, seek out, enjoy), and the right is characterized in terms of maximizing the good. The good is usually defined “impartially,” that is, as the good for everyone rather than for an individual. But this need not be the case: as we see with Bentham, the good that the individual (as opposed to the legislator) is concerned with is his or her (...)
  44. 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 (...)
  45. Restrictive Consequentialism and Real Friendship.Edmund Henden - 2007 - Ratio 20 (2):179–193.
    A familiar objection to restrictive consequentialism is that a restrictive consequentialist is incapable of having true friendships. In this paper I distinguish between an instrumentalist and a non-instrumentalist version of this objection and argue that while the restrictive consequentialist can answer the non-instrumentalist version, restrictive consequentialism may still seem vulnerable to the instrumentalist version. I then suggest a consequentialist reply that I argue also works against this version of the objection. Central to this reply is the claim that a restrictive (...)
  46. Review of 'The Demands of Consequentialism' by T. Mulgan. [REVIEW]Hooker Bradford - unknown
  47. 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 (...)
  48. The Heart of Consequentialism.Frances Howard-Snyder - 1994 - Philosophical Studies 76 (1):107 - 129.
  49. The Limits of Consequentialism.Donald C. Hubin - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 10:167-176.
    Modern consequentialism is a very broad theory. Consequentialists can invoke a distribution sensitive theory of value to address the issues of distributive justice that bedeviled utilitarianism. They can attach intrinsic moral value to such acts truth-telling and promise-keeping and, so, acknowledge the essential moral significance of such acts in a way that classical utilitarianism could not. It can appear that there are no limits to consequentialism’s ability to respond to the criticisms against utilitarian theories by embracing a sophisticated theory of (...)
  50. Character Consequentialism: An Early Confucian Contribution to Contemporary Ethical Theory.Philip J. Ivanhoe - 1991 - Journal of Religious Ethics 19 (1):55 - 70.
    Early Confucian ethics can best be understood as character consequentialism, an ethical theory concerned with the effects actions have upon the cultivation of virtues and which concentrates on certain psychological goods, particularly certain kinship relationships which it regards not only as intrinsically but also instrumentally valuable, as the source of more general social virtues. According to character consequentialism, the way to maximize the good is to maximize the number of virtuous individuals in society, but because human virtues cannot be cultivated (...)
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