•  1117
    The Elements of Well-Being
    Journal of Practical Ethics 3 (1): 15-35. 2015.
    This essay contends that the constitutive elements of well-being are plural, partly objective, and separable. The essay argues that these elements are pleasure, friendship, significant achievement, important knowledge, and autonomy, but not either the appreciation of beauty or the living of a morally good life. The essay goes on to attack the view that elements of well-being must be combined in order for well-being to be enhanced. The final section argues against the view that, because anything …Read more
  •  819
    Rule-consequentialism
    Mind 99 (393): 67-77. 1990.
    The theory of morality we can call full rule - consequentialism selects rules solely in terms of the goodness of their consequences and then claims that these rules determine which kinds of acts are morally wrong. George Berkeley was arguably the first rule -consequentialist. He wrote, “In framing the general laws of nature, it is granted we must be entirely guided by the public good of mankind, but not in the ordinary moral actions of our lives. … The rule is framed with respect to the good of …Read more
  •  582
    Does Moral Virtue Constitute a Benefit to the Agent?
    In Roger Crisp (ed.), How Should one Live?, Oxford University Press. 1996.
    Theories of individual well‐being fall into three main categories: hedonism, the desire‐fulfilment theory, and the list theory (which maintains that there are some things that can benefit a person without increasing the person's pleasure or desire‐fulfilment). The paper briefly explains the answers that hedonism and the desire‐fulfilment theory give to the question of whether being virtuous constitutes a benefit to the agent. Most of the paper is about the list theory's answer.
  •  473
    Must Kantian Contractualism and Rule-consequentialism Converge?
    Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 4 34-52. 2014.
    Derek Parfit’s On What Matters endorses Kantian Contractualism, the normative theory that everyone ought to follow the rules that everyone could rationally will that everyone accept. This paper explores Parfit’s argument that Kantian Contractualism converges with Rule Consequentialism. A pivotal concept in Parfit’s argument is the concept of impartiality, which he seems to equate agent-neutrality. This paper argues that equating impartiality and agent-neutrality is insufficient, since some agent…Read more
  •  367
    Variable versus fixed-rate rule-utilitarianism
    Philosophical Quarterly 58 (231). 2008.
    Fixed-rate versions of rule-consequentialism and rule-utilitarianism evaluate rules in terms of the expected net value of one particular level of social acceptance, but one far enough below 100% social acceptance to make salient the complexities created by partial compliance. Variable-rate versions of rule-consequentialism and rule-utilitarianism instead evaluate rules in terms of their expected net value at all different levels of social acceptance. Brad Hooker has advocated a fixed-rate versio…Read more
  •  303
    What are the appropriate criteria for assessing a theory of morality? In this enlightening work, Brad Hooker begins by answering this question. He then argues for a rule-consequentialist theory which, in part, asserts that acts should be assessed morally in terms of impartially justified rules. In the end, he considers the implications of rule-consequentialism for several current controversies in practical ethics, making this clearly written, engaging book the best overall statement of this appr…Read more
  •  249
    Fairness
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (4). 2005.
    The main body of this paper assesses a leading recent theory of fairness, a theory put forward by John Broome. I discuss Broome's theory partly because of its prominence and partly because I think it points us in the right direction, even if it takes some missteps. In the course of discussing Broome's theory, I aim to cast light on the relation of fairness to consistency, equality, impartiality, desert, rights, and agreements. Indeed, before I start assessing Broome's theory, I discuss two very …Read more
  •  222
    The demandingness objection
    In T. Chappell (ed.), The Problem of Moral Demandingness, Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 148-162. 2009.
    This paper’s first section invokes a relevant meta-ethical principle about what a moral theory needs in order to be plausible and superior to its rivals. In subsequent sections, I try to pinpoint exactly what the demandingness objection has been taken to be. I try to explain how the demandingness objection developed in reaction to impartial act-consequentialism’s requirement of beneficence toward strangers. In zeroing in on the demandingness objection, I distinguish it from other, more or less c…Read more
  •  218
    The Collapse of Virtue Ethics
    Utilitas 14 (1): 22. 2002.
    Virtue ethics is normally taken to be an alternative to consequentialist and Kantian moral theories. I shall discuss what I think is the most interesting version of virtue ethics – Rosalind Hursthouse's. I shall then argue that her version is inadequate in ways that suggest revision in the direction of a kind of rule-consequentialism
  •  200
    A critical account arguing that Williams did not succeed in undermining the possibility of external reasons. Hooker takes Williams’s conception of reason to be instrumentalistic in a problematic way.
  •  165
    ‘Moral Particularism: Wrong and Bad’
    In Brad Hooker & Margaret Olivia Little (eds.), Moral Particularism, Oxford University Press. pp. 1-22. 2000.
  •  136
    Rule-consequentialism has been accused of either collapsing into act-consequentialism or being internally inconsistent. I have tried to develop a form of rule-consequentialism without these flaws. In this June's issue of Utilitas, Robert Card argued that I have failed. Here I assess his arguments
  •  131
    Is Rule-Consequentialism a Rubber Duck?
    Analysis 54 (2). 1994.
    Some things aren't what their names suggest. This is true of rubber ducks, stool pigeons, clay pigeons, hot dogs, and clothes horses. Frances Howard-Snyder's "Rule Consequentialism is a Rubber Duck" ("APQ", 30 (1993) 271-78) argues that the answer is Yes. Howard-Snyder thinks rule-consequentialism is a form of deontology, not a form of consequentialism. This thought is understandable: many recent definitions of consequentialism are such as to invite it. Thinking rule-consequentialism inferior to…Read more
  •  126
    An international line-up of fourteen distinguished philosophers present new essays on topics relating to well-being and morality, prominent themes in contemporary ethics and particularly in the work of James Griffin, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, in whose honour this volume has been produced. Professor Griffin offers a fascinating development of his own thinking on these topics in his replies to the essays.
  •  113
    This paper replies to Carson's attacks on an earlier paper of Hooker's. Carson argued that rule-consequentialism--the theory that an act is morally right if and only if it is allowed by the set of rules and corresponding virtues the having of which by everyone would bring about the best consequences considered impartially--can and does require the comfortably off to make enormous sacrifices in order to help the needy. Hooker defends rule-consequentialism against Carson's arguments
  •  113
    Moral Particularism (edited book)
    with Brad Hooker and Margaret Olivia Little
    Oxford University Press. 2000.
    A timely and penetrating investigation, this book seeks to transform moral philosophy. In the face of continuing disagreement about which general moral principles are correct, there has been a resurgence of interest in the idea that correct moral judgements can be only about particular cases. This view--moral particularism --forecasts a revolution in ordinary moral practice that has until now consisted largely of appeals to general moral principles. Moral particularism also opposes the primary a…Read more
  •  110
    Singer and His Critics
    Mind 111 (441): 122-126. 2002.
  •  109
    Cudworth and Quinn
    Analysis 61 (4). 2001.
  •  104
    Ross-style pluralism versus rule-consequentialism
    Mind 105 (420): 531-552. 1996.
    This paper employs (and defends where needed) a familiar four-part methodology for assessing moral theories. This methodology makes the most popular kind of moral pluralism--here called Ross-style pluralism--look extremely attractive. The paper contends, however, that, if rule-consequentialism's implications match our considered moral convictions as well as Ross-style pluralism's implications do, the methodology makes rule-consequentialism look even more attractive than Ross-style pluralism. The…Read more
  •  94
    Brink, Kagan, Utilitarianism and Self-Sacrifice
    Utilitas 3 (2): 263. 1991.
    Act-utilitarianism claims that one is required to do nothing less than what makes the largest contribution to overall utility. Critics of this moral theory commonly charge that it is unreasonably demanding. Shelly Kagan and David Brink, however, have recently defended act-utilitarianism against this charge. Kagan argues that act-utilitarianism is right, and its critics wrong, about how demanding morality is. In contrast, Brink argues that, once we have the correct objective account of welfare an…Read more
  •  92
    What are appropriate criteria for assessing a theory of morality? In Ideal Code, Real World, Brad Hooker begins by answering this question, and then argues for a rule-consequentialist theory. According to rule-consequentialism, acts should be assessed morally in terms of impartially justified rules, and rules are impartially justified if and only if the expected overall value of their general internalization is at least as great as for any alternative rules. In the course of developing his rule-…Read more
  •  87
    Sidgwick and Common–Sense Morality
    Utilitas 12 (3): 347. 2000.
    This paper begins by celebrating Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics. It then discusses Sidgwick's moral epistemology and in particular the coherentist element introduced by his argument from common-sense morality to utilitarianism. The paper moves on to a discussion of how common-sense morality seems more appealing if its principles are formulated as picking out pro tanto considerations rather than all-things-considered demands. Thefinal section of the paper considers the question of which version of …Read more
  •  84
    With respect to morality, the term ‘impartiality’ is used to refer to quite different things. My paper will focus on three: 1. Impartial application of good (first-order) moral rules 2. Impartial benevolence as the direct guide to decisions about what to do 3. Impartial assessment of (first-order) moral rules What are the relations among these three? Suppose there was just one good (first-order) moral rule, namely, that one should choose whatever one thinks will maximize aggregate good. If there…Read more
  •  83
    On what matters
    The Philosophers' Magazine 50 (50): 66-67. 2010.
  •  76
    Moral particularism and the real world
    In Mark Norris Lance, Matjaž Potrč & Vojko Strahovnik (eds.), Challenging Moral Particularism, Routledge. pp. 12--30. 2008.
    The term ‘moral particularism’ has been used to refer to different doctrines. The main body of this paper begins by identifying the most important doctrines associated with the term, at least as the term is used by Jonathan Dancy, on whose work I will focus. I then discuss whether holism in the theory of reasons supports moral particularism, and I call into question the thesis that particular judgements have epistemological priority over general principles. Dancy’s recent book Ethics without Pri…Read more
  •  72
    Thinking About Reasons: Themes From the Philosophy of Jonathan Dancy (edited book)
    with David Bakhurst and Margaret Olivia Little
    Oxford University Press. 2013.
    Thinking about Reasons collects fourteen new essays on ethics and the philosophy of action, inspired by the work of Jonathan Dancy—one of his generation's most influential moral philosophers.
  •  72
    Morality and the good life
    The Philosophers' Magazine 53 (53): 91-95. 2011.
    Being moral sometimes handicaps decent people in their pursuit of worthwhile goals. This is especially likely to happen when those with power in society have badly mistaken ideas about what morality requires. A good person might not last long in a bad society
  •  70
    This essay explores the reasons for thinking that Scanlon's contractualist principle serves merely as a ?spare wheel?, an element that spins along nicely but bears no real weight, because it presupposes too much of what it should be explaning. The ambitions and scope of Scanlon's contractualism are discussed, as is Scanlon's thesis that contracualism will assess candidate moral principles individually rather than as sets. The final third of the paper critizes Scanlon's account of fairness and hi…Read more