Can Hare's two-level utilitarianism overcome the problems facing act-utilitarianism?


In order to provide a positive defence of utilitarianism, R.M Hare presented his own theory of 'two-level' utilitarianism, claiming that it overcame the main objections directed towards traditional act utilitarianism. This essay firstly outlines the main problems associated with utilitarianism and examines whether Hare's theory is indeed able to successfully overcome them. It then goes on to examine the coherence of two-level utilitarianism itself, and thus determine whether it can provide a positive defence of utilitarianism by being an example of a successful and practical utilitarian theory. I conclude that two-level utilitarianism does successfully avoid the difficulties associated with act-utilitarianism, but only providing that we can find a way to overcome the psychological demands of two-level theory that requires us to maintain and practice two distinct types of moral thought.



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