Journal of the History of Philosophy 53 (4):723-745 (2015)

Piers Norris Turner
Ohio State University
Recent scholarship on John Stuart Mill’s moral theory has settled on the view that he is committed to a form of rule utilitarianism. I argue that this consensus is mistaken. Mill’s explicit account of practical rules is incompatible with rule utilitarianism but consistent with sophisticated act utilitarianism. I also examine the direct, textual evidence cited by rule utilitarian interpreters, arguing that it is consistent with the act utilitarian account of practical rules. Finally, I argue that two systematic considerations cited by rule utilitarian interpreters—Mill’s analysis of “wrong” in terms of the appropriateness of punishment, and his account of supererogation—also do not require a rule utilitarian reading.
Keywords rule utilitarianism  utilitarianism  John Stuart Mill  act utilitarianism
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DOI 10.1353/hph.2015.0063
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The Absolutism Problem in On Liberty.Piers Norris Turner - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (3):322-340.

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