A Contractualist Defense of Rule Consequentialism

Journal of Philosophical Research 38:189-201 (2013)
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Abstract

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 version of contractualism briefly discussed by Tim Mulgan and by his claim that it converges with rule consequentialism, given certain restrictions. I show that Mulgan’s own argument for convergence is seriously flawed, but that a variation on his contractualism does converge with rule consequentialism, and it does it without Mulgan’s own restrictions. Though Mulgan himself does not treat convergence as an argument for rule consequentialism—his own argument is heavily intuitionistic—I claim that convergence provides significant support for rule consequentialism.

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References found in this work

The limits of morality.Shelly Kagan - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Contractualism and utilitarianism.Thomas M. Scanlon - 1982 - In Amartya Sen & Bernard Williams (eds.), Utilitarianism and Beyond. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 103--128.
An outline of a system of utilitarian ethics.John Jamieson Carswell Smart - 1961 - [Carlton]: Melbourne University Press on behalf of the University of Adelaide.
The demands of consequentialism.Tim Mulgan - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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