Consequentialism and rational choice: Lessons from the Allais paradox

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):86–116 (2008)
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Abstract

This paper investigates the relation between consequentialism, as conceived of in moral theory, and standard expected utility theory. I argue that there is a close connection between the two. I show furthermore that consequentialism is not neutral with regard to the values of the agent. Consequentialism, as well as standard expected utility theory, is incompatible with the recognition of considerations that depend on what could have been the case, such as regret and disappointment. I conclude that consequentialism should be rejected as a principle of rational choice and that there are reasons to doubt its plausibility in the realm of moral theory. Moreover, this is a reason to doubt whether standard expected utility theory is a plausible theory of rational choice.

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Bruno Verbeek
Leiden University

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason.Michael Bratman - 1987 - Cambridge: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Value in Ethics and Economics.Elizabeth Anderson - 1993 - Harvard University Press.

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