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Chapter 5 - Secular Heterodoxy

Twentieth-Century Rule-Utilitarianism

from Part I - The Emergence of the Rule-Consequentialist Paradox

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Alex Tuckness
Affiliation:
Iowa State University
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Summary

In the twentieth century, secular philosophers explicitly defended rule-utilitarian theories as alternatives to act-utilitarian theories that, they believed, led to implausible moral conclusions. This approach was powerfully criticized by people like David Lyons and J. J. C. Smart who thought rule-consequentialism was paradoxical because it awarded rules a weight that could not be justified on consequentialist grounds. In the mid- to late twentieth century there were philosophers who attempted to challenge the boundaries of utilitarian orthodoxy by expressly using nonconsequentialist moral premises to justify the shift to a legislative rather than situated perspective. The focus on the failure of rule-utilitarianism in terms of strict utilitarian orthodoxy has obscured the importance of hybrid theories that draw on both consequentialist and nonconsequentialist premises. A number of thinkers who are classified as rule-utilitarians (and sometimes criticized for betraying utilitarian orthodoxy) in fact expressly acknowledged nonutilitarian aspects to their theories (including R. M. Hare and John Harsanyi). The chapter ends with a summary of the main historical claims of Part I.

Type
Chapter
Information
Morality as Legislation
Rules and Consequences
, pp. 126 - 156
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Secular Heterodoxy
  • Alex Tuckness, Iowa State University
  • Book: Morality as Legislation
  • Online publication: 29 July 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009052542.006
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  • Secular Heterodoxy
  • Alex Tuckness, Iowa State University
  • Book: Morality as Legislation
  • Online publication: 29 July 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009052542.006
Available formats
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Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Secular Heterodoxy
  • Alex Tuckness, Iowa State University
  • Book: Morality as Legislation
  • Online publication: 29 July 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009052542.006
Available formats
×