The Case Against Consequentialism Reconsidered

Cham: Springer (2016)
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Abstract

This book argues that critics of consequentialism have not been able to make a successful and comprehensive case against all versions of consequentialism because they have been using the wrong methodology. This methodology relies on the crucial assumption that consequentialist theories share a defining characteristic. This text interprets consequentialism, instead, as a family resemblance term. On that basis, it argues quite an ambitions claim, viz. that all versions of consequentialism should be rejected, including those that have been created in response to conventional criticisms. The book covers a number of classic themes in normative ethics, metaethics and, particularly, ethical methodology and also touches upon certain aspects of experimental moral philosophy. It is written in clear language and is analytic in its argumentative style. As such, the book should appeal to students, graduate students as well as professional academics with an interest in analytic moral philosophy.

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Chapters

Normative-Ethical Foundations

This chapter discusses the area of normative ethics and introduces crucial notions that are used throughout the book. After defining normative ethics as the study of moral theories, the idea of a moral theory is anatomized and important concepts contained in it are explained. Most importantly, the t... see more

Methodology

This chapter discusses methodological issues. In a first step, it shows that the methodic procedure critics typically adopt to make a case against consequentialism is vulnerable to a simple strategy of counter–argumentation: the Humpty Dumpty Defence. It consists in rejecting the definition of conse... see more

Conclusion

This chapter reviews the four steps of the argument against consequentialism and highlights controversial premises. In doing that, it shows how future research could conceivably strengthen the case against consequentialism further. It also comments on the conclusiveness of the argument and suggests ... see more

Joining the Dots

This chapter completes the fourth and final step of the Family Resemblance Approach, which was introduced in Chap. 3. It shows that all versions of consequentialism that could not be eliminated in previous steps of the argument apparently violate certain fixed points in our moral thinking. The argum... see more

Consequentialism and Its Variants

After Chap. 3 introduced the Family Resemblance Approach to criticizing consequentialism, this chapter completes its first three steps. The first step consists in examining a paradigmatic consequentialist moral theory, viz. Classic Utilitarianism. It is factorized into a set of logical components. T... see more

Metaethical Foundations

This chapter discusses the metaethical underpinnings of the argument against consequentialism. It introduces the Rawlsian Approach to theory evaluation in normative ethics which proposes a criterion for the adequacy of moral theories. Various interpretations of this idea are discussed before they ar... see more

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Nikil S. Mukerji
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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