•  35449
    Act Utilitarianism
    In Ben Eggleston & Dale E. Miller (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism, Cambridge University Press. pp. 125-145. 2014.
    An overview (about 8,000 words) of act utilitarianism, covering the basic idea of the theory, historical examples, how it differs from rule utilitarianism and motive utilitarianism, supporting arguments, and standard objections. A closing section provides a brief introduction to indirect utilitarianism (i.e., a Hare- or Railton-style view distinguishing between a decision procedure and a criterion of rightness).
  •  4348
    Mill’s Moral Standard
    In Christopher Macleod & Dale E. Miller (eds.), A Companion to Mill, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. pp. 358-373. 2016.
    A book chapter (about 7,000 words, plus references) on the interpretation of Mill’s criterion of right and wrong, with particular attention to act utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism, and sanction utilitarianism. Along the way, major topics include Mill’s thoughts on liberalism, supererogation, the connection between wrongness and punishment, and breaking rules when doing so will produce more happiness than complying with them will.
  •  2109
    Most arguments in support of act utilitarianism are elaborations of one of two basic strategies. One is the consequentialist strategy. This strategy relies on the consequentialist premise that an act is right if and only if it produces the best possible consequences and the welfarist premise that the value of a state of affairs is entirely determined by its overall amount of well-being. The other strategy is based on the idea of treating individuals respectfully and resolving conflicts among ind…Read more
  •  867
    A book chapter (about 8,000 words, plus references) summarizing Part One of Reasons and Persons, with particular attention to the Self-interest Theory, Consequentialism, Common-Sense Morality, and how critical scrutiny of Consequentialism and Common-Sense Morality points the way toward a unified theory of morality.
  •  640
    Practical equilibrium, like reflective equilibrium, is a way of deciding what to think about morality. It shares with reflective equilibrium the general thesis that there is some way in which a moral theory must, in order to be acceptable, answer to one’s moral intuitions, but it differs from reflective equilibrium in its specification of exactly how a moral theory must answer to one’s intuitions. Whereas reflective equilibrium focuses on a theory’s consistency with those intuitions, practical e…Read more
  •  600
    Rejecting The Publicity Condition: The Inevitability of Esoteric Morality
    Philosophical Quarterly 63 (250): 29-57. 2013.
    It is often thought that some version of what is generally called the publicity condition is a reasonable requirement to impose on moral theories. In this article, after formulating and distinguishing three versions of the publicity condition, I argue that the arguments typically used to defend them are unsuccessful and, moreover, that even in its most plausible version, the publicity condition ought to be rejected as both question-begging and unreasonably demanding
  •  366
    In Ben Eggleston & Dale E. Miller (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism, Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-15. 2014.
    The introduction (about 6,000 words) to _The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism_, in three sections: utilitarianism’s place in recent and contemporary moral philosophy (including the opinions of critics such as Rawls and Scanlon), a brief history of the view (again, including the opinions of critics, such as Marx and Nietzsche), and an overview of the chapters of the book.
  •  332
    Decision Theory
    In Sacha Golob & Jens Timmermann (eds.), The Cambridge History of Moral Philosophy, Cambridge University Press. pp. 706-717. 2017.
    A book chapter (about 4,000 words, plus references) on decision theory in moral philosophy, with particular attention to uses of decision theory in specifying the contents of moral principles (e.g., expected-value forms of act and rule utilitarianism), uses of decision theory in arguing in support of moral principles (e.g., the hypothetical-choice arguments of Harsanyi and Rawls), and attempts to derive morality from rationality (e.g., the views of Gauthier and McClennen).
  •  328
    A book chapter (about 9,000 words, plus references) presenting an act-consequentialist approach to the ethics of climate change. It begins with an overview of act consequentialism, including a description of the view’s principle of rightness (an act is right if and only if it maximizes the good) and a conception of the good focusing on the well-being of sentient creatures and rejecting temporal discounting. Objections to act consequentialism, and replies, are also considered. Next, the chapter b…Read more
  •  238
    In James E. Crimmins (ed.), The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism, Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 6-8. 2013.
    A short (about 1,000 words) overview of adjudication, describing the standard view (judges should just apply the law, when possible) and two goal-oriented views: wealth maximization and the maximization of well-being – i.e., utilitarian adjudication.
  •  228
    The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2014.
    Utilitarianism, the approach to ethics based on the maximization of overall well-being, continues to have great traction in moral philosophy and political thought. This Companion offers a systematic exploration of its history, themes, and applications. First, it traces the origins and development of utilitarianism via the work of Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, and others. The volume then explores issues in the formulation of utilitarianism, including act versus rule utilitaria…Read more
  •  161
    Conflicts of Rules in Hooker’s Rule-Consequentialism
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (3): 329-349. 2007.
    In his 2000 book _Ideal Code, Real World: A Rule-consequentialist Theory of Morality_, Brad Hooker recognizes that his theory, like most rule-consequentialist theories, must answer the question of how agents are to resolve conflicts that may arise among the rules his theory endorses. Here I examine Hooker’s answer to this question, and I argue that his answer fails to solve a serious problem that arises from such conflicts.
  •  87
    This paper discusses David Gauthier’s attempt to refine the theory underlying constrained maximization so that it ceases to have a certain implication that he regards as objectionable. It argues that the refinement Gauthier introduces may be initially appealing, but actually does his theory more harm than good.
  •  82
    Rules and Their Reasons: Mill on Morality and Instrumental Rationality
    In Ben Eggleston, Dale Miller & David Weinstein (eds.), John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life, Oxford University Press. pp. 71-93. 2010.
    This chapter addresses the question of what role Mill regards rules as playing in the determination of morally permissible action by drawing on his remarks about instrumentally rational action. First, overviews are provided of consequentialist theories and of the rule-worship or incoherence objection to rule-consequentialist theories. Then a summary is offered of the considerable textual evidence suggesting that Mill’s moral theory is, in fact, a rule-consequentialist one. It is argued, however,…Read more
  •  82
    Procedural Justice in Young's Inclusive Deliberative Democracy
    Journal of Social Philosophy 35 (4). 2004.
    In her book _Inclusion and Democracy_, Iris Marion Young offers a defense of a certain model of deliberative democracy and argues that political institutions that conform to this model are just. I argue that Young gives two contradictory accounts of why such institutions are just, and I weigh the relative merits of two ways in which this contradiction can be resolved.
  •  79
    Consequentialists typically think that the moral quality of one's conduct depends on the difference one makes. But consequentialists may also think that even if one is not making a difference, the moral quality of one's conduct can still be affected by whether one is participating in an endeavour that does make a difference. Derek Parfit discusses this issue – the moral significance of what I call ‘participation’ – in the chapter of Reasons and Persons that he devotes to what he calls ‘moral mat…Read more
  •  79
    According to G. E. Moore, moral expertise requires abilities of several kinds: the ability to factor judgments of right and wrong into (a) judgments of good and bad and (b) judgments of cause and effect, (2) the ability to use intuition to make the requisite judgments of good and bad, and (3) the ability to use empirical investigation to make the requisite judgments of cause and effect. Moore’s conception of moral expertise is thus extremely demanding, but he supplements it with some very simple…Read more
  •  68
    This edition of _Utilitarianism_ supplements the text of Mill’s classic essay with 58 related remarks carefully selected from Mill’s other writings, ranging from his treatise on logic to his personal correspondence. In these remarks, Mill comments on specific passages of _Utilitarianism_, elaborates on topics he handles briefly in _Utilitarianism_, and discusses additional aspects of his moral thought. Short introductory comments accompany the related remarks, and an editor’s introduction provid…Read more
  •  63
    Should Consequentialists Make Parfit's Second Mistake? A Refutation of Jackson
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78 (1). 2000.
    Frank Jackson claims that consequentialists should hold the view that Derek Parfit labels the second ‘mistake in moral mathematics’, which is the view that “If some act is right or wrong because of . . . effects, the only relevant effects are the effects of this particular act.” But each of the three arguments that Jackson offers is unsound. The root of the problem is that in order to argue for the conclusion Jackson aims to establish (that consequentialists should not regard the second “mistake…Read more
  •  62
    Review of Tim Mulgan, The Demands of Consequentialism (review)
    Utilitas 21 (1): 123-125. 2009.
    A review of Tim Mulgan, _The Demands of Consequentialism_ (Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. vi + 313.
  •  59
    Paradox of Happiness
    In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Blackwell. pp. 3794-3799. 2013.
  •  54
    Everything is what it is, and not another thing: Comments on Austin
    Southwest Philosophy Review 19 (2): 101-105. 2003.
    To specify the aspects of Austin’s position that I want to focus on, let me start by reviewing some of the things that Austin says in order to characterize ethical intuitionism. He writes, “I take an ethical intuition to be a type of synthetic a priori insight into the necessary character of reality specifically concerning that which is right and/or good” (p. 205), and he adds that he regards “ethical intuition as a source of foundationally justified belief” (p. 205). He goes on to write that On…Read more
  •  51
    Reformulating Consequentialism: Railton’s Normative Ethics
    Philosophical Studies 126 (3). 2005.
    A critical examination of the chapters on normative ethics in Peter Railton’s Facts, Values, and Norms: Essays Toward a Morality of Consequence. It is argued that Railton’s theory of sophisticated consequentialism effectively handles issues of pollution and moral dilemma that Railton discusses, and that Railton’s more recent proposal of “valoric consequentialism,” if coupled with a non-act-utilitarian standard of rightness of the kind Railton discusses, is vulnerable to objections to which sophi…Read more
  •  50
    Accounting for the Data: Intuitions in Moral Theory Selection
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (4): 761-774. 2014.
    Reflective equilibrium is often credited with extending the idea of accounting for the data from its familiar home in the sciences to the realm of moral philosophy. But careful consideration of the main concepts of this idea—the data to be accounted for and the kind of accounting it is appropriate to expect of a moral theory—leads to a revised understanding of the “accounting for the data” perspective as it applies to the discipline of moral theory selection. This revised understanding is in ten…Read more
  •  42
    John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life (edited book)
    with Dale Miller and David Weinstein
    Oxford University Press. 2010.
    The 'Art of Life' is John Stuart Mill's name for his account of practical reason. In this volume, eleven leading scholars elucidate this fundamental, but widely neglected, element of Mill's thought. Mill divides the Art of Life into three 'departments': 'Morality, Prudence or Policy, and Æsthetics'. In the volume's first section, Rex Martin, David Weinstein, Ben Eggleston, and Dale E. Miller investigate the relation between the departments of morality and prudence. Their papers ask whether Mill …Read more
  •  39
    The Problem of Rational Compliance with Rules
    Journal of Value Inquiry 43 (1): 19-32. 2009.
    The problem of rational compliance with rules is the problem of how it can be rational for an agent to follow a rule with a purely consequentialist justification in a case in which she knows that she can do more good by breaking it. This paper discusses two ways in which responses to this problem can fail to address it, using Alan Goldman’s article “The Rationality of Complying with Rules: Paradox Resolved” as a case study.
  •  38
    A review of Alan H. Goldman, _Practical Rules: When We Need Them and When We Don’t_ (Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. xi + 210.
  •  33
    Review of Garrett Cullity, Concern, Respect, and Cooperation (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4): 836-839. 2019.
    Volume 97, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 836-839.
  •  32
    Review of Martin Peterson, An Introduction to Decision Theory (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010. 2010.
    A review of Martin Peterson, _An Introduction to Decision Theory_ (Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. x + 317.
  •  21
    Mill's Misleading Moral Mathematics
    Southwest Philosophy Review 24 (1): 153-161. 2008.