Utilitarianism, Institutions, and Justice

Oxford University Press (1997)
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Abstract

This book is a rebuttal of the common charge that the moral doctrine of utilitarianism permits horrible acts, justifies unfair distribution of wealth and other social goods, and demands too much of moral agents. Bailey defends utilitarianism by applying central insights of game theory regarding feasible equilibria and evolutionary stability of norms to elaborate an account of institutions that real-world utilitarians would want to foster. With such an account he shows that utilitarianism, while still a useful doctrine for criticizing existing institutions, is far more congruent with ordinary moral common sense than has been generally recognized. A controversial attempt to support the practical use of utilitarian ethics in a world of conflicting interests and competing moral agents, Bailey's work uniquely bridges the abstract debate of philosophers and the practical, consequence-based debates of political scientists.

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