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Summary Act-consequentialists rank acts according to how good their consequences would be and then hold that the permissibility of acts is a function of this ranking. For instance, maximizing act-utilitarians rank acts according to how much utility they would produce and then hold that an act is permissible if and only if it produces at least as much utility as that of any alternative act. Rule-consequentialists, by contrast, rank, not acts, but sets of rules according to how good their consequences would be if they were widely (or universally) accepted (or complied with) and then hold that an act is permissible if and only if it is permitted by a set of rules whose associated consequences would be at least as good as that associated with any alternative set of rules. Some key issues are (1) whether rule-consequentialism is guilty of collapsing into act-consequentialism or, if not, whether it can still be a coherent view, (2) whether rule-consequentialism can adequately deal with cases where these is only partial compliance with the ideal set of rules, (3) whether rule-consequentialism is overly demanding, and (4) whether rule-consequentialism can adequately deal with cases where abiding by one of the rules in the ideal set would have disastrous consequences. 
Key works You can get a pretty good sense of the current debate by reading both Hooker 2000 and Arneson 2005.
Introductions The best introduction, to my mind, is Hooker 2000.
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142 found
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  1. Chapter 5: Dual-Ranking Act-Consequentialism: Reasons, Morality, and Overridingness.Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This is Chapter 5 of my Commonsense Consequentialism: Wherein Morality Meets Rationality. In this chapter, I argue that those who wish to accommodate typical instances of supererogation and agent-centered options must deny that moral reasons are morally overriding and accept both that the reason that agents have to promote their own self-interest is a non-moral reason and that this reason can, and sometimes does, prevent the moral reason that they have to sacrifice their self-interest so as to do more to (...)
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  2. Consequentialism and Its Demands: The Role of Institutions.Attila Tanyi & András Miklós - manuscript
    It isn’t saying much to claim that morality is demanding; the question, rather, is: can morality be so demanding that we have reason not to follow its dictates? According to many, it can, if that morality is a consequentialist one. 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 (...)
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  3. Psychological Mechanism of Corruption: A Comprehensive Review. [REVIEW]Juneman Abraham, Julia Suleeman & Bagus Takwin - forthcoming - Asian Journal of Scientific Research.
    Corruption prevention can be more effective if it does not rely merely on legal enforcement. This theoretical review aimed to propose a hypothetical psychological model capable of explaining the behavior of corruption. Moral disengagement is a variable that is considered ontologically closest in “distance” to the variable of corruption behavior. Counterfeit self, implicit self-theory, ethical mindset and moral emotion are taken into account as the pivotal factors of the corruption behavior and its mechanism of moral disengagement. Counterfeit self along with (...)
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  4. Rule Consequentialism and Moral Relativism in Advance.Ryan Jenkins - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Research.
    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 (...)
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  5. Parfit on Reasons and Rule Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore - forthcoming - In Simon Kirchin (ed.), Reading Parfit. Routledge.
    I argue that rule consequentialism sometimes requires us to act in ways that we lack sufficient reason to act. And this presents a dilemma for Parfit. Either Parfit should concede that we should reject rule consequentialism (and, hence, Triple Theory, which implies it) despite the putatively strong reasons that he believes we have for accepting the view or he should deny that morality has the importance he attributes to it. For if morality is such that we sometimes have decisive reason (...)
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  6. 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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  7. Moral Education and Rule Consequentialism.Dale E. Miller - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (1):120-140.
    Rule consequentialism holds that an action's moral standing depends on its relation to the moral code whose general adoption would have the best consequences. Heretofore rule consequentialists have understood the notion of a code's being generally adopted in terms of its being generally obeyed or, more commonly, its being generally accepted. I argue that these ways of understanding general adoption lead to unacceptable formulations of the theory. For instance, Brad Hooker, Michael Ridge, and Holly Smith have recently offered different answers (...)
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  8. Act Consequentialism Without Free Rides.Preston Greene & Benjamin A. Levinstein - 2020 - Philosophical Perspectives 34 (1):88-116.
    Consequentialist theories determine rightness solely based on real or expected consequences. Although such theories are popular, they often have difficulty with generalizing intuitions, which demand concern for questions like “What if everybody did that?” Rule consequentialism attempts to incorporate these intuitions by shifting the locus of evaluation from the consequences of acts to those of rules. However, detailed rule-consequentialist theories seem ad hoc or arbitrary compared to act consequentialist ones. We claim that generalizing can be better incorporated into consequentialism by (...)
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  9. The Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism.Douglas W. Portmore (ed.) - 2020 - New York, USA: Oup Usa.
    Consequentialism is a major moral theory and a rival to such non-consequentialist theories as deontology, contractualism, and virtue ethics. It is the view that the only thing that matters morally is the consequences of an action. Thus, consequentialists hold that, to assess an act, we must first evaluate and rank the various ways things could turn out depending on whether it or some alternative act is performed. Its moral permissibility, then, depends on how its consequences compare to those of its (...)
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  10. What Is Conventionalism About Moral Rights and Duties?Katharina Nieswandt - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1):15-28.
    ABSTRACTA powerful objection against moral conventionalism says that it gives the wrong reasons for individual rights and duties. The reason why I must not break my promise to you, for example, should lie in the damage to you—rather than to the practice of promising or to all other participants in that practice. Common targets of this objection include the theories of Hobbes, Gauthier, Hooker, Binmore, and Rawls. I argue that the conventionalism of these theories is superficial; genuinely conventionalist theories are (...)
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  11. Empirical Ignorance as Defeating Moral Intuitions? A Puzzle for Rule Consequentialists.Caleb Perl - 2019 - Analysis 79 (1):62-72.
    This paper develops an argument that, if rule consequentialism is true, it’s not possible to defend it as the outcome of reflective equilibrium. Ordinary agents like you and me are ignorant of too many empirical facts. Our ignorance is a defeater for our moral intuitions. Even worse, there aren’t enough undefeated intuitions left to defend rule consequentialism. The problem I’ll describe won’t be specific to rule consequentialists, but it will be especially sharp for them.
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  12. Consequentialism.Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  13. Wouldn't It Be Nice? Moral Rules and Distant Worlds.Abelard Podgorski - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):279-294.
    Traditional rule consequentialism faces a problem sometimes called the ideal world objection—the worry that by looking only at the consequences in worlds where rules are universally adhered to, the theory fails to account for problems that arise because adherence to rules in the real world is inevitably imperfect. In response, recent theorists have defended sophisticated versions of rule consequentialism which are sensitive to the consequences in worlds with less utopian levels of adherence. In this paper, I argue that these attempts (...)
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  14. Mill’s Moral Standard.Ben Eggleston - 2017 - In Christopher Macleod & Dale E. Miller (eds.), A Companion to Mill. Oxford, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. pp. 358-373.
    A book chapter (about 7,000 words, plus references) on the interpretation of Mill’s criterion of right and wrong, with particular attention to act utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism, and sanction utilitarianism. Along the way, major topics include Mill’s thoughts on liberalism, supererogation, the connection between wrongness and punishment, and breaking rules when doing so will produce more happiness than complying with them will.
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  15. How Much is Rule-Consequentialism Really Willing to Give Up to Save the Future of Humanity?Patrick Kaczmarek - 2017 - Utilitas 29 (2):239-249.
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  16. Institutional Consequentialism and Global Governance.Attila Tanyi & András Miklós - 2017 - Journal of Global Ethics 13 (3):279-297.
    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 (...)
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  17. Introducing Recursive Consequentialism: A Modified Version of Cooperative Utilitarianism.Evan G. Williams - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (269):794-812.
    This article proposes ‘Recursive Consequentialism’: the moral theory which gives agents whatever advice will produce good consequences by being given. It can be thought of as a version of Donald Regan's ‘Cooperative Utilitarianism’ to which two additional elements have been added: allowing people with differing conceptions of ‘good consequences’, e.g., a Utilitarian and a non-Utilitarian, to cooperate with one another, and taking into account the full consequences of accepting, not just complying with, moral guidance. The theory is motivated by a (...)
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  18. The Burdens of Morality: Why Act‐Consequentialism Demands Too Little.Tom Dougherty - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (1):82-85.
    A classic objection to act-consequentialism is that it is overdemanding: it requires agents to bear too many costs for the sake of promoting the impersonal good. I develop the complementary objection that act-consequentialism is underdemanding: it fails to acknowledge that agents have moral reasons to bear certain costs themselves, even when it would be impersonally better for others to bear these costs.
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  19. Rule-Consequentialism and the Significance of Species.Pedro Galvão - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (4):396-414.
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  20. Act-Consequentialism Versus Rule-Consequentialism.Bradford Hooker - 2016 - In Steven Cahn & Andrew Forcehimes (eds.), Principles of Moral Philosophy: Classic and Contemporary Approaches. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
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  21. Solving Rule-Consequentialism's Acceptance Rate Problem.Timothy D. Miller - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (1):41-53.
    Recent formulations of rule-consequentialism have attempted to select the ideal moral code based on realistic assumptions of imperfect acceptance. But this introduces further problems. What assumptions about acceptance would be realistic? And what criterion should we use to identify the ideal code? The solutions suggested in the recent literature all calculate a code's value using formulas that stipulate some uniform rate of acceptance. After pointing out a number of difficulties with these approaches, I introduce a formulation of RC on which (...)
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  22. Making Room for Rules.Adam Cureton - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (3):737-759.
    Kantian moral theories must explain how their most basic moral values of dignity and autonomy should be interpreted and applied to human conditions. One place Kantians should look for inspiration is, surprisingly, the utilitarian tradition and its emphasis on generally accepted, informally enforced, publicly known moral rules of the sort that help us give assurances, coordinate our behavior, and overcome weak wills. Kantians have tended to ignore utilitarian discussions of such rules mostly because they regard basic moral principles as a (...)
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  23. Rule Consequentialism at Top Rates.Teemu Toppinen - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly:pqv065.
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. The Failure of Hooker’s Argument for Rule Consequentialism.Sanford Levy - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (5):598-614.
    Brad Hooker argues for rule consequentialism using narrow reflective equilibrium resources along with a handful of wider resources. One of his important claims in defense of rule consequentialism is that it begins from a familiar and attractive idea about morality. I argue that his defense of rule consequentialism fails and more particularly, that rather than beginning from a familiar and attractive idea, it begins from an idea that is quite unattractive. I show this by applying the method rule consequentialists use (...)
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  27. Rule Consequentialism and Disasters.Leonard Kahn - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):219-236.
    Rule consequentialism (RC) is the view that it is right for A to do F in C if and only if A's doing F in C is in accordance with the the set of rules which, if accepted by all, would have consequences which are better than any alternative set of rules (i.e., the ideal code). I defend RC from two related objections. The first objection claims that RC requires obedience to the ideal code even if doing so has disastrous (...)
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  28. A Contractualist Defense of Rule Consequentialism.Sanford Levy - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:189-201.
    In this paper, I provide a defense of rule consequentialism that does not appeal to the “guiding teleological idea” according to which the final ground of moral assessment must lie in effects on well-being. My defense also avoids appeals to intuition. It is a contractualist defense. Many forms of contractualism can, with only minor tweaking, be used to defend rule consequentialism. In this paper I show how one specific form of contractualism does the job. This argument is inspired by a (...)
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  29. Rule Consequentialism and the Problem of Partial Acceptance.Kevin Tobia - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):643-652.
    Most plausible moral theories must address problems of partial acceptance or partial compliance. The aim of this paper is to examine some proposed ways of dealing with partial acceptance problems as well as to introduce a new Rule Utilitarian suggestion. Here I survey three forms of Rule Utilitarianism, each of which represents a distinct approach to solving partial acceptance issues. I examine Fixed Rate, Variable Rate, and Optimum Rate Rule Utilitarianism, and argue that a new approach, Maximizing Expectation Rate Rule (...)
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  30. The Common Structure of Kantianism and Act-Utilitarianism.Christopher Woodard - 2013 - Utilitas 25 (2):246-265.
    This article proposes a way of understanding Kantianism, act-utilitarianism and some other important ethical theories according to which they are all versions of the same kind of theory, sharing a common structure. I argue that this is a profitable way to understand the theories discussed. It is charitable to the theories concerned; it emphasizes the common ground between them; it gives us insights into the differences between them; and it provides a method for generating new ethical theories worth studying. The (...)
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  31. Rule Consequentialism and Scope.Leonard Kahn - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):631-646.
    Rule consequentialism (RC) holds that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined by an ideal moral code, i.e., the set of rules whose internalization would have the best consequences. But just how many moral codes are there supposed to be? Absolute RC holds that there is a single morally ideal code for everyone, while Relative RC holds that there are different codes for different groups or individuals. I argue that Relative RC better meets the test of reflective equilibrium than (...)
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  32. A Counterexample to Parfit's Rule Consequentialism.Jacob Nebel - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 6 (2):1-10.
    Derek Parfit argues that everyone ought to follow the principles whose universal acceptance would make things go best. I present a counterexample: a world in which no one's moral beliefs have any motivating force. I explain how Parfit's metaethical commitments imply that such a world is possible, and why this possibility is a problem for Parfit's project of reconciling Kantianism, contractualism, and consequentialism. I consider two of Parfit's responses to my counterexample.
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  33. Rule Consequentialism Makes Sense After All.Tyler Cowen - 2011 - Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (2):212-231.
    It is commonly claimed that rule consequentialism collapses into act consequentialism, because sometimes there are benefits from breaking the rules. I suggest this argument is less powerful than has been believed. The argument requires a commitment to a very particular account of feasibility and constraints. It requires the presupposition that thinking of rules as the relevant constraint is incorrect. Supposedly we should look at a smaller unit of choice—the single act—as the relevant choice variable. But once we see feasibility as (...)
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  34. Promises and Rule Consequentialism.Brad Hooker - 2011 - In Hanoch Sheinman (ed.), Promises and Agreements. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 235-252.
    The duty to keep promises has many aspects associated with deontological moral theories. The duty to keep promises is non-welfarist, in that the obligation to keep a promise need not be conditional on there being a net benefit from keeping the promise—indeed need not be conditional on there being at least someone who would benefit from its being kept. The duty to keep promises is more closely connected to autonomy than directly to welfare: agents have moral powers to give themselves (...)
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  35. Mill, Rule Utilitarianism, and the Incoherence Objection.Dale E. Miller - 2011 - In Ben Eggleston, Dale E. Miller & D. Weinstein (eds.), John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life. Oxford University Press. pp. 94.
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  36. Mill's Rule Utilitarianism in Context.Rex Martin - 2010 - In Ben Eggleston, Dale E. Miller & D. Weinstein (eds.), John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life. Oxford University Press.
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  37. 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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  38. 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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  39. Actual Rule Utilitarianism.Richard B. Miller - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy 106 (1):5-28.
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  40. Rule Consequentialism and Non-Identity.Tim Mulgan - 2009 - In David Wasserman & Melinda Roberts (eds.), Harming Future Persons. Springer. pp. 115--134.
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  41. Rule-Consequentialism and Irrelevant Others: Douglas W. Portmore.Douglas W. Portmore - 2009 - Utilitas 21 (3):368-376.
    In this article, I argue that Brad Hooker's rule-consequentialism implausibly implies that what earthlings are morally required to sacrifice for the sake of helping their less fortunate brethren depends on whether or not other people exist on some distant planet even when these others would be too far away for earthlings to affect.
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  42. Climb Every Mountain?Michael Ridge - 2009 - Ratio 22 (1):59-77.
    The central thesis of Derek Parfit's On What Matters is that three of the most important secular moral traditions – Kantianism, contractualism, and consequentialism – all actually converge in a way onto the same view. It is in this sense that he suggests that we may all be 'climbing the same mountain, but from different sides'. In this paper, I argue that Parfit's argument that we are all metaphorically climbing the same mountain is unsound. One reason his argument does not (...)
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  43. Should Kantians Be Consequentialists?Jacob Ross - 2009 - Ratio 22 (1):126-135.
    Parfit argues that a form of rule consequentialism can be derived from the most plausible formulation of the fundamental principle of Kantian ethics. And so he concludes that Kantians should be consequentialists. I argue that we have good reason to reject two of the auxiliary premises that figure in Parfit's derivation of rule consequentialism from Kantianism. 1.
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  44. Hooker’s Consequentialism and the Depth of Moral Experience.Edmund Wall - 2009 - Dialogue 48 (2):337.
    ABSTRACT: In Ideal Code, Real World, Brad Hooker seeks to offer a version of ideal rule consequentialism that is immune from standard criticisms. I will attempt to challenge Hooker’s ideal rule-consequentialist theory by arguing that there are philosophical problems at the ultimate foundation of his maximizing consequentialist and pluralist approach toward well-being and other basic goods. I find that no amount of revision is likely to insulate his approach from standard criticisms. I suggest that any maximizing rule-consequentialist approach toward well-being, (...)
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  45. Scalar Properties, Binary Judgments.Larry Alexander - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):85–104.
    In the moral realm, our deontic judgments are usually (always?) binary. An act (or omission) is either morally forbidden or morally permissible. 1 Yet the determination of an act's deontic status frequently turns on the existence of properties that are matters of degree. In what follows I shall give several examples of binary moral judgments that turn on scalar properties, and I shall claim that these examples should puzzle us. How can the existence of a property to a specific degree (...)
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  46. Rule-Consequentialism and Its Virtues.Brad Hooker - 2008 - Rivista di Filosofia 99 (3):491-510.
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  47. Two Concepts of Rule Utilitarianism.Rex Martin - 2008 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (2):227-255.
    The notion of rule utilitarianism (a twentieth-century addition to the canon of utilitarian thought) has been discussed under two main headings—ideal-rule utilitarianism and 'indirect' utilitarianism. The distinction between them is often hazy. But we can sketch out each perspective along three different dimensions, contrasting the two conceptions of rule utilitarianism at each of three main hinge points: (1) the grounding of rules, (2) the allowed complexity of rules, (3) the conflict of rules. These two profiles constitute ideal types, but they (...)
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  48. A Dilemma for Rule-Consequentialism.Jussi Suikkanen - 2008 - Philosophia 36 (1):141-150.
    Rule-consequentialists tend to argue for their normative theory by claiming that their view matches our moral convictions just as well as a pluralist set of Rossian duties. As an additional advantage, rule-consequentialism offers a unifying justification for these duties. I challenge the first part of the ruleconsequentialist argument and show that Rossian duties match our moral convictions better than the rule-consequentialist principles. I ask the rule-consequentialists a simple question. In the case that circumstances change, is the wrongness of acts determined (...)
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  49. A New Argument Against Rule Consequentialism.Christopher Woodard - 2008 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (3):247-261.
    We best understand Rule Consequentialism as a theory of pattern-based reasons, since it claims that we have reasons to perform some action because of the goodness of the pattern consisting of widespread performance of the same type of action in the same type of circumstances. Plausible forms of Rule Consequentialism are also pluralist, in the sense that, alongside pattern-based reasons, they recognise ordinary act-based reasons, based on the goodness of individual actions. However, Rule Consequentialist theories are distinguished from other pluralist (...)
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  50. Inconsistency and the Theoretical Commitments of Hooker's Rule-Consequentialism.Robert F. Card - 2007 - Utilitas 19 (2):243-258.
    Rule-consequentialism is frequently regarded as problematic since it faces the following powerful dilemma: either rule-consequentialism collapses into act-consequentialism or rule-consequentialism is inconsistent. Recent defenders of this theory such as Brad Hooker provide a careful response to this objection. By explicating the nature and theoretical commitments of rule-consequentialism, I contend that these maneuvers are not successful by offering a new way of viewing the dilemma which retains its force even in light of these recent discussions. The central idea is that even (...)
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