Hooker's rule‐consequentialism, disasters, demandingness, and arbitrary distinctions

Ratio 35 (4):289-300 (2022)
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According to Brad Hooker's rule-consequentialism, as well as ordinary moral prohibitions against lying, stealing, killing, and harming others, the optimific code will include an over-riding “prevent disaster clause”. This paper explores two issues related to the disaster clause. The first issue is whether the disaster clause is vague—and whether this is a problem for rule-consequentialism. I argue that on Hooker's rule-consequentialism, there will be cases where it is indeterminate whether a given outcome counts as a disaster such that it is permissible to infringe a given prohibition to avoid that outcome. I argue that it counts in favour of Hooker's rule-consequentialism that it makes this space for vagueness. The second issue is how to understand the disaster clause so that it does not make rule-consequentialism intolerably demanding—and more particularly whether avoiding over-demandingness requires the rule-consequentialist to place a counterintuitive limit on requirements to aid. I will argue that rule-consequentialism can avoid over-demandingness without placing a counterintuitive limit on requirements to aid.



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Fiona Woollard
University of Southampton

References found in this work

Why We Should Reject S.Derek Parfit - 1984 - In Reasons and Persons. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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