Rule consequentialism and disasters

Philosophical Studies 162 (2):219-236 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

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 results. Though some rule consequentialists embrace a disaster-clause which permits agents to disregard some of the rules in the ideal code as a necessary means of avoiding disasters, they have not adequately explained how this clause works. I offer such an explanation and show how it fits naturally with the rest of RC. The second disaster objection asserts that even if RC can legitimately invoke a disaster-clause, it lacks principled grounds from distinguishing disasters from non-disasters. In response, I explore Hooker's suggestion that “disaster” is vague. I contend that every plausible ethical theory must invoke something similar to a disaster clause. So if “disaster” is vague, then every plausible ethical theory faces a difficulty with it. As a result, this vagueness is not a reason to prefer other theories to RC. However, I argue, contra Hooker, that the sense of “disaster” relevant to RC is not vague, and RC does indeed have principled grounds to distinguish disasters from nondisasters.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,264

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The demandingness objection.Brad Hooker - 2009 - In T. Chappell (ed.), The Problem of Moral Demandingness. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 148-162.
Rule Consequentialism and Scope.Leonard Kahn - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):631-646.
Disaster.Stephen David Ross - 2009 - International Studies in Philosophy Monograph Series:335-350.
A dilemma for rule-consequentialism.Jussi Suikkanen - 2008 - Philosophia 36 (1):141-150.
Recovery From Natural and Man-Made Disasters As Capabilities Restoration and Enhancement.C. Murphy & P. Gardoni - 2008 - International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning 3 (4):1-17.
Rule-consequentialism's dilemma.Iain Law - 1999 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (3):263-276.

Analytics

Added to PP
2010-09-30

Downloads
117 (#108,233)

6 months
3 (#225,457)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Leonard Kahn
Loyola University, New Orleans

Citations of this work

Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
The Concept of Law.Hla Hart - 1961 - Oxford University Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - London and New York: Routledge.

View all 66 references / Add more references