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Hooker on Rule-Consequentialism and Virtue

  • DALE E. MILLER (a1)

Abstract

In Ideal Code, Real World, Brad Hooker proposes an account of the relation between his rule-consequentialism and virtue according to which the virtues (1) have intrinsic value and (2) are identical with the dispositions that are ‘essential parts of accepting the rules’ of the ideal code. While it is not clear whether Hooker actually intends to endorse this account or only intends to moot it for discussion, I argue that for him to adopt it would be a mistake. Not only would this mean that his moral theory was no longer properly a consequentialist view at all, but it would commit him to inconsistent views about how normative theories – in particular theories of morality in the deontic sense and theories of virtue – are justified.

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References

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1 Hooker, Brad, Ideal Code, Real World: A Rule-Consequentialist Theory of Morality (Oxford, 2000), p. 32.

2 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, pp. 34–6.

3 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, p. 36.

4 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, pp. 36–7.

5 See for example Brink, David O., Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (Cambridge, 1989), p. 215, and Kagan, Shelly, Normative Ethics (Boulder, 1998), pp. 28–9, 59–69.

6 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, p. 2.

7 A reviewer for this journal noted that my definition might be open to this objection.

8 Hooker, Brad, ‘Ross-Style Pluralism versus Rule-Consequentialism’, Mind 105 (1996), pp. 531–52, at 531.

9 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, p. 104.

10 Hooker, ‘Ross-Style Pluralism versus Rule-consequentialism’, pp. 531–52; Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, pp. 19–23.

11 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, p. 4.

12 For a more detailed description of reflective equilibrium, see Rawls, John, A Theory of Justice, 2nd ed. (Cambridge Mass., 1999), pp. 1819, 42–5; Rawls, John, ‘The Independence of Moral Theory’, John Rawls: Collected Papers, ed. Freeman, Samuel (Cambridge Mass., 1999), pp. 286302; Daniels, Norman, ‘Wide Reflective Equilibrium and Theory Acceptance in Ethics’, The Journal of Philosophy 76 (1979), pp. 256–82.

13 For this criticism see Miller, Dale E., ‘Hooker's Use and Abuse of Reflective Equilibrium’, Morality, Rules, and Consequences: A Critical Reader, ed. Hooker, Brad, Mason, Elinor and Miller, Dale E. (Edinburgh, 2000), pp. 156–78.

14 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, p. 16; see also Hooker, Brad, ‘Reflective Equilibrium and Rule Consequentialism’, Morality, Rules, and Consequences: A Critical Reader, ed. Hooker, Brad, Mason, Elinor and Miller, Dale E. (Edinburgh, 2000), pp. 222–38, at 230.

15 Hooker, ‘Reflective Equilibrium and Rule Consequentialism’, p. 230.

16 Hooker, ‘Reflective Equilibrium and Rule Consequentialism’, p. 230.

17 See, e.g. Bonjour, Laurence, ‘The Coherence Theory of Empirical Knowledge’, Philosophical Studies 30 (1976), pp. 281312, at 288–9.

18 Hooker maintains that we should require only a weak internal coherence from moral theories, one that amounts to little more than internal consistency, since requiring more would rule out ‘deeply pluralist’ theories (Ideal Code, Real World, p. 10). Yet this is no argument against requiring true coherence between our background theories and our moral theory.

19 ‘Reflective Equilibrium and Rule Consequentialism’, p. 226. See also Ideal Code, Real World, p. 4.

20 Ideal Code, Real World, p. 4.

21 See e.g. Brandt, Richard, Facts, Values, and Morality (Cambridge, 1996), esp. pp. 145–55.

22 Mill, John Stuart, Utilitarianism in Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society, Collected Works of J. S. Mill, vol. 10, ed. Robson, J. M. (Toronto), pp. 203–59, at 229.

23 Hooker, Ideal Code, Real World, p. 2 (see also p. 91).

24 Cf. Hooker, Brad, ‘The Collapse of Virtue Ethics’, Utilitas 14 (2002), pp. 2240, at 22, where he seems to suggest that the virtues include a broader set of dispositions but never explains how these can all be essential parts of accepting the ideal code.

25 I owe this example to Ted Kinnaman.

26 Stocker, Michael, ‘The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories’, Journal of Philosophy 73 (1976), pp. 453–66, at 462.

27 Ben Eggleston called my attention to the relevance of this point. Stohr, Karen discusses in more detail what the cold-hearted benefactor is lacking in the virtue department (‘Virtue Ethics and Kant's Cold-Hearted Benefactor’, Journal of Value Inquiry 36 (2002), pp. 187204).

28 I gratefully acknowledge the valuable comments of Ben Eggleston and a reviewer for this journal.

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