Sophisticated rule consequentialism: Some simple objections

Philosophical Issues 15 (1):235–251 (2005)
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The popularity of rule-consequentialism among philosophers has waxed and waned. Waned, mostly; at least lately. The idea that the morality that ought to claim allegiance is the ideal code of rules whose acceptance by everybody would bring about best consequences became the object of careful analysis about half a century ago, in the writings of J. J. C. Smart, John Rawls, David Lyons, Richard Brandt, Richard Hare, and others.1 They considered utilitarian versions of rule consequentialism but discovered flaws in the view that attach to the wider consequentialist doctrine. In the eyes of many, the flaws were decisive. Brad Hooker has produced brilliant work that unsettles this complacent consensus.2 Over a period of several years he has produced a sustained and powerful defense of a version of rule consequentialism that does not obviously succumb to the criticisms that have been thought to render this doctrine a nonstarter. He acknowledges intellectual debts to Richard Brandt. But Hooker avoid certain excrescences in Brandt’s efforts to conceive of morality as an ideal code of rules. Most notably, Hooker eschews Brandt’s misguided attempt to derive some version of rule utilitarianism from an underlying commitment to some form of contractualism. Moreover, Hooker has worked to articulate a version of rule consequentialism in sufficient detail that one can see how the different parts of the doctrine hang together and how the best version of the..



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Richard J. Arneson
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - 2023 - In Christian B. Miller (ed.), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Ethics. Bloomsbury Academic.
Some Question-Begging Objections to Rule Consequentialism.Caleb Perl - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (4):904-919.
Political equality, plural voting, and the leveling down objection.David Peña-Rangel - 2022 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 21 (2):122-164.
Some moral benefits of ignorance.Jimmy Alfonso Licon - 2023 - Philosophical Psychology 36 (2):319-336.

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References found in this work

Moral thinking: its levels, method, and point.R. M. Hare (ed.) - 1981 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
A theory of the good and the right.Richard B. Brandt - 1979 - Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.
Two concepts of rules.John Rawls - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (1):3-32.
Forms and limits of utilitarianism.David Lyons - 1965 - Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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