Is it Rational to Pursue Utilitarianism?

Ethical Perspectives 14 (2):139-158 (2007)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the rational foundation of utilitarianism and the moral motivation to pursue utilitarianism. To this end, the paper discusses a variety of theories including not only utilitarianism and theories of rationality, but also economic theory and evolutionary theories of cooperation.The paper shows that both the rational foundation of utilitarianism and the motivation to pursue utilitarianism are questionable. Agent-relative theories are a recent attempt to attenuate the problem of motivation for utilitarianism. This paper shows, however, that agent-relative theories are also problematic because they require suppression of evolutionary altruistic behavior

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