Rule-Consequentialism's Assumptions

Utilitas 30 (4):458-471 (2018)
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Rule-Consequentialism faces “the problem of partial acceptance”: How should the ideal code be selected given the possibility that its rules may not be universally accepted? A new contender, “Calculated Rates” Rule-Consequentialism claims to solve this problem. However, I argue that Calculated Rates merely relocates the partial acceptance question. Nevertheless, there is a significant lesson from this failure of Calculated Rates. Rule-Consequentialism’s problem of partial acceptance is more helpfully understood as an instance of the broader problem of selecting the ideal code given various assumptions—assumptions about who will accept and comply with the rules, but also about how the rules will be taught and enforced, and how similar the future will be. Previous rich discussions about partial acceptance provide a taxonomy and groundwork for formulating the best version of Rule-Consequentialism.

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Kevin Tobia
Georgetown University


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