•  279
    The Demands of Consequentialism
    Oxford University Press. 2001.
    Tim Mulgan presents a penetrating examination of consequentialism: the theory that human behavior must be judged in terms of the goodness or badness of its consequences. The problem with consequentialism is that it seems unreasonably demanding, leaving us no room for our own aims and interests. In response, Mulgan offers his own, more practical version of consequentialism--one that will surely appeal to philosophers and laypersons alike.
  •  165
    The Future of Utilitarianism
    In James Maclaurin (ed.), Rationis Defensor, . 2012.
    Climate change has obvious practical implications. It will kill millions of people, wipe out thousands of species, and so on. My question in this paper is much narrower. How might climate change impact on moral theory – and especially on the debate between utilitarians and their non-utilitarian rivals? I argue that climate change creates serious theoretical difficulties for non-utilitarian moral theories – especially those that based morality or justice on any contract or bargain for reciprocal …Read more
  •  124
    What do we owe to our descendants? How do we balance their needs against our own? Tim Mulgan develops a new theory of our obligations to future generations, based on a new rule-consequentialist account of the morality of individual reproduction. He also brings together several different contemporary philosophical discussions, including the demands of morality and international justice. His aim is to produce a coherent, intuitively plausible moral theory that is not unreasonably demanding, even w…Read more
  •  123
    The Reverse Repugnant Conclusion
    Utilitas 14 (3): 360. 2002.
    Total utilitarianism implies Parfit's repugnant conclusion. For any world containing ten billion very happy people, there is a better world where a vast number of people have lives barely worth living. One common response is to claim that life in Parfit's Z is better than he suggests, and thus that his conclusion is not repugnant. This paper shows that this strategy cannot succeeed. Total utilitarianism also implies a reverse repugnant conclusion. For any world where ten billion people have live…Read more
  •  121
    The article discusses Michael Slote's Satisficing Consequentialism, which is the view that moral agents are not required to maximise the good, but merely to produce a sufficient amount of good. It is argued that Satisficing Consequentialism is not an acceptable alternative to Maximising Consequentialism. In particular, it is argued that Satisficing Consequentialism cannot be less demanding in practice than Maximising Consequentialism without also endorsing a wide range of clearly unacceptable ac…Read more
  •  113
    How Satisficers Get Away with Murder
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 9 (1). 2001.
    Traditional Consequentialism is based on a demanding principle of impartial maximization. Michael Slote's 'Satisficing Consequentialism' aims to reduce the demands of Consequentialism, by no longer requiring us to bring about the best possible outcome. This paper presents a new objection to Satisficing Consequentialism. We begin with a simple thought experiment, in which an agent must choose whether to save the lives of ten innocent people by using a sand bag or by killing an innocent person. Th…Read more
  •  92
    Review: Christopher Woodard: Reasons, Patterns, and Cooperation (review)
    Mind 118 (470): 539-542. 2009.
  •  85
    Our everyday notions of responsibility are often driven by our need to justify ourselves to specific others – especially those we harm, wrong, or otherwise affect. One challenge for contemporary ethics is to extend this interpersonal urgency to our relations with those future people who are harmed or affected by our actions. In this article, I explore our responsibility for climate change by imagining a possible ‘broken future’, damaged by the carbon emissions of previous generations, and then a…Read more
  •  70
    Utilitarianism for a Broken World
    Utilitas 27 (1): 92-114. 2015.
    Drawing on the author's recent bookEthics for a Broken World, this article explores the philosophical implications of the fact that climate change – or something like it – might lead to abroken worldwhere resources are insufficient to meet everyone's basic needs, and where our affluent way of life is no longer an option. It argues that the broken world has an impact, not only on applied ethics, but also on moral theory. It then explores that impact. The article first argues that the broken world…Read more
  •  68
    Transcending the infinite utility debate
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (2). 2002.
    An infinite future thus threatens to paralyze utilitarianism. Utilitarians need principled ways to determine which possible infinite futures are better or worse. In this article, I discuss a recent suggestion of Peter Vallentyne and Shelly Kagan. I conclude that the best way forward for utilitarians is, in fact, to by-pass the infinite utility debate altogether. (edited)
  •  66
    Religion, Supernaturalism and Superstition
    Analysis 71 (4): 755-765. 2011.
  •  65
    III—Ethics for Possible Futures
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 114 (1pt1): 57-73. 2014.
    I explore the moral implications of four possible futures: a broken future where our affluent way of life is no longer available; a virtual future where human beings spend their entire lives in Nozick's experience machine; a digital future where humans have been replaced by unconscious digital beings; and a theological future where the existence of God has been proved. These futures affect our current ethical thinking in surprising ways. They raise the importance of intergenerational ethics, alt…Read more
  •  64
    A Non-proportional Hybrid Moral Theory
    Utilitas 9 (3): 291. 1997.
    A common objection to consequentialism is that it makes unreasonable demands upon moral agents, by failing to allow agents to give special weight to their own personal projects and interests. A prominent recent response to this objection is that of Samuel Scheffler, who seeks to make room for moral agents by building agent-centred prerogatives into a consequentialist moral theory. In this paper, I present a new objection to Scheffler's account. I then sketch an improved prerogative, which avoids…Read more
  •  48
    Two familiar worldviews dominate Western philosophy: materialist atheism and Abrahamic theism. One exciting development in recent philosophy of religion is the exploration of alternatives to both theism and atheism. This paper explores two alternatives: axiarchism and ananthropocentrism. Drawing on the long tradition of Platonism, axiarchists such as John Leslie, Derek Parfit and Nicholas Rescher posit a direct link between goodness and existence. The goodness of a possible world is what makes i…Read more
  •  45
    Two Conceptions of Benevolence
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 26 (1): 62-79. 1997.
  •  42
    Critical Notice of Jeff McMahan, The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34 (3): 443-459. 2004.
    In this exceptional new book, Jeff McMahan sets out to provide such an account. Along the way, he offers nuanced and illuminating accounts of personal identity, human nature, the badness of death, the wrongness of killing, the rights of animals, abortion, and euthanasia. This book is a major contribution to both moral theory and applied ethics, and makes a strong case for the relevance of the former to the latter. It is also beautifully written and a joy to read.
  •  41
    Answering to Future People: Responsibility for Climate Change in a Breaking World
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (3): 532-548. 2018.
    Our everyday notions of responsibility are often driven by our need to justify ourselves to specific others – especially those we harm, wrong, or otherwise affect. One challenge for contemporary ethics is to extend this interpersonal urgency to our relations with those future people who are harmed or affected by our actions. In this article, I explore our responsibility for climate change by imagining a possible ‘broken future’, damaged by the carbon emissions of previous generations, and then a…Read more
  •  41
    Weighing lives (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly 58 (231). 2008.
  •  40
    Reply to John turri
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 13 (4). 2005.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  38
    How should utilitarians think about the future?
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2-3): 290-312. 2017.
    Utilitarians must think collectively about the future because many contemporary moral issues require collective responses to avoid possible future harms. But current rule utilitarianism does not accommodate the distant future. Drawing on my recent books Future People and Ethics for a Broken World, I defend a new utilitarianism whose central ethical question is: What moral code should we teach the next generation? This new theory honours utilitarianism’s past and provides the flexibility to adapt…Read more
  •  37
    Dissolving the Mere Addition Paradox
    American Philosophical Quarterly 37 (4). 2000.
  •  35
    The Future of Philosophy
    Metaphilosophy 44 (3): 241-253. 2013.
    In this article the editor of the Philosophical Quarterly briefly outlines the editorial process at that journal; explains why it is foolhardy to attempt to predict the future of philosophy; and, finally, attempts such a prediction. Drawing on his recent book Ethics for a Broken World, he argues that climate change, or some other disaster, may lead to a broken world where the optimistic assumptions underlying contemporary philosophy no longer apply. He argues that the possibility of a broken wor…Read more
  •  30
    Corporate Agency and Possible Futures
    Journal of Business Ethics 154 (4): 901-916. 2018.
    We need an account of corporate agency that is temporally robust – one that will help future people to cope with challenges posed by corporate groups in a range of credible futures. In particular, we need to bequeath moral resources that enable future people to avoid futures dominated by corporate groups that have no regard for human beings. This paper asks how future philosophers living in broken or digital futures might re-imagine contemporary debates about corporate agency. It argues that the…Read more