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The Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism

By Douglas W. Portmore
  • ISBN Code: : 0190905344
  • Publisher : Oxford University Press
  • Pages : 656
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Reads : 765
  • Book Compatibility : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Pdf : the-oxford-handbook-of-consequentialism.pdf

Book Excerpt :

Consequentialism is a major moral theory in contemporary philosophy: it is the view that the only thing that matters when making moral decisions is the outcome of those decisions. Consequentialists hold that to morally assess an act, we must first evaluate and rank the various ways that things could turn out depending on whether it or some alternative act is performed. Whether we should perform that act thus depends on how its outcome ranks relative to those of its alternatives. Consequentialism rivals deontology, contractualism, and virtue ethics, but, more importantly, it has influenced contemporary moral philosophy such that the consequentialist/non-consequentialist distinction is one of the most central in normative ethics. After all, every plausible moral theory must concede that the goodness of an act's consequences is something that matters, even if it's not the only thing that matters. Thus, all plausible moral theories will accept that both 1) an act's producing good consequences constitutes a moral reason to perform it, and 2) the better its consequences, the more of a moral reason there is to perform it. In this way, much of consequentialist ethical theory is important for normative ethics in general. This Oxford Handbook contains thirty-two previously unpublished contributions by top moral philosophers examining the current state of play in consequentialism and pointing to new directions for future research. The volume is organized into four major sections: foundational issues; objections to consequentialism; its forms and limits; and consequentialism's implications for policy, practice, and social reform.

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The Handbook of Rational and Social Choice provides an overview of issues arising in work on the foundations of decision theory and social choice over the past three decades. Drawing on work by economic theorists mainly, but also with contributions from political science, philosophy and psychology, the collection shows how the related areas of decision theory and social choice have developed in their applications and moved well beyond the basic models of expected utility and utilitarian approaches to welfare economics. Containing twenty-three contributions, in many cases by leading figures in their fields, the handbook shows how the normative foundations of economics have changed dramatically as more general and explicit models of utility and group choice have been developed. This is perhaps the first time these developments have been brought together in a manner that seeks to identify and make accessible the recent themes and developments that have been of particular interest to researchers in recent years. The collection will be of particular value to researchers in economics with interests in utility or welfare but it will also be of interest to any social scientist or philosopher interested in theories of rationality or group decision-making.

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  • Pdf File: moral-aggregation.pdf

Book Short Summary:

Some ethical theories tolerate or require aggregation -- a trade-off between benefits to a group of individuals and losses to another group of individuals. Since aggregation is an essential feature of utilitarianism, many critics of utilitarianism -- including John Rawls, Thomas Nagel, T. M. Scanlon, and others -- rule out aggregation from their proposed theories. However, critics encounter what has become known as the number problem-the problem that non-aggregative theories are insensitive to the number of people affected by actions even in the cases where the number of people is clearly relevant to what we ought to do. In this book, Iwao Hirose elucidates the theoretical nature of interpersonal and intra-personal aggregation and defends a form of aggregation, formal aggregation, as distinguished from substantive aggregation in utilitarianism. Substantive aggregation combines the morally relevant factors that are determined prior to, and independently of, aggregative process, and identifies the goal to be pursued. In contrast, formal aggregation represents the overall ethical judgment in terms of individuals' morally relevant factors and gives a structure to our ethical thinking. Hirose's view of formal aggregation is broader than substantive aggregation and avoids problems for utilitarianism. Furthermore, formal aggregation can satisfy the demands of critics of the conventional understanding of aggregation, thus being more attractive than substantive aggregation and the unqualified rejection of aggregation. Hirose's analysis thus elucidates the far-reaching scope of aggregation and offers a new insight to one of the fundamental elements in ethical theory.

Future People

By Tim Mulgan
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : OUP Oxford
  • Book Code : 0191536032
  • Total of Pages : 396
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 360
  • Pdf File: future-people.pdf

Book Short Summary:

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 argues that the resulting theory accounts for a wide range of independently plausible intuitions - covering individual morality, intergenerational justice, and international justice. In particular, the moderate consequentialist approach is superior to its two main rivals in this area - person-affecting theories and traditional consequentialism. The former fall foul of Parfit's Non-Identity Problem, while the latter are invariably implausibly demanding. Mulgan also claims that most puzzles in contemporary value theory (such as Parfit's Repugnant Conclusion) are actually puzzles in the theory of right action, and can only be solved if we abandon strict consequentialism for a more moderate alternative. The heart of the book is the first systematic exploration of the rule-consequentialist account of the morality of individual reproduction. Mulgan demostrates that this account is superior to all available alternatives, both consequentialist and non-consequentialist. Once we recognise the intergenerational dimension, moral and political philosophy cannot be considered in isolation. The latter must be founded on the former. Rule consequentialism provides the best foundation for a theory of intergenerational justice. Future People brings together several different contemporary philosophical discussions: obligations to future generations, the morality of individual reproduction, the demands of morality, and international justice. While the focus is on developing a new account, there are also substantial discussions of alternative views, especially contract-based accounts of intergenerational justice and competing forms of consequentialism.

A Theory of Value and Obligation

By Robin Attfield
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Book Code : 1000029166
  • Total of Pages : 274
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 933
  • Pdf File: a-theory-of-value-and-obligation.pdf

Book Short Summary:

Originally published in 1987 and re-issued in 2020 with a new Preface, this book presents and elaborates interrelated solutions to a number of problems in moral philosophy, from the location of intrinsic value and the nature of a worthwhile life, via the limits of obligation and the nature of justice, to the status of moral utterances. After developing a biocentric account of moral standing, the author locates worthwhile life in the development of the generic capacities of a creature, whether human or nonhuman, and presents an account of relative intrinsic value which later generates a theory of interspecific justice. This value-theory also informs a consequentialist understanding of obligation, of moral rightness and of supererogation. The understanding thus supplied is shown to cope with the problems of integrity, of justice and of the ‘Repugnant Conclusion’ in population ethics. A cognitivist account of ethical conclusions such as those so far reached is then defended against non-cognitivist and relativist objections and a far-reaching naturalist theory is defended, integrating earlier conclusions with an account of the logic of the fundamental ethical concepts. This wide-ranging volume which maps the whole area of morality is thoroughly argued with reference both to contemporary philosophical developments and to classical theories.

Opting for the Best

By Douglas W. Portmore
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : Oxford University Press
  • Book Code : 0190945362
  • Total of Pages : 272
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 873
  • Pdf File: opting-for-the-best.pdf

Book Short Summary:

We ought to opt for the best-that is, we ought to choose the option that is best in terms of whatever ultimately matters. So, if maximizing happiness is what ultimately matters, then we ought to perform the option that results in the most happiness. And if, instead, abiding by the Golden Rule is what ultimately matters, then we ought to perform the option that best abides by this rule. However, even if we know what ultimately matters, this is not always sufficient for determining which option we ought to perform. There are other questions that we need to consider as well. Which events are options for us? How do we rank our options-in terms of their own goodness or in terms of the goodness of the best options that entail them? How exactly does that which ultimately matters determine which options we ought to perform? In Opting for the Best, Douglas W. Portmore focuses on these three questions, which he argues can best be answered by putting aside any specific determination of what ultimately matters. He argues that tackling these three questions is crucial to solving many of the puzzles concerning what we ought to do, including those involving supererogation, indeterminate outcomes, overdetermined outcomes, predictable future misbehavior, and good acts that entail bad acts, among others. Engaging with arguments in areas as wide-ranging as action theory and deontic logic, the solutions that Portmore offers systematize our thinking about some of the most complex issues in practical philosophy.

From Value to Rightness

By Vuko Andrić
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Book Code : 1000405443
  • Total of Pages : 184
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 689
  • Pdf File: from-value-to-rightness.pdf

Book Short Summary:

This book develops an original version of act-consequentialism. It argues that act-consequentialists should adopt a subjective criterion of rightness. The book develops new arguments which strongly suggest that, according to the best version of act-consequentialism, the rightness of actions depends on expected rather than actual value. Its findings go beyond the debate about consequentialism and touch on important debates in normative ethics and metaethics. The distinction between criterion of rightness and decision procedures addresses how, why, and in which sense moral theories must be implemented by ordinary persons. The discussion of the rationales of "ought" implies "can" leads to the discovery of a hitherto overlooked moral principle, "ought" implies "evidence", which can be used to show that most prominent moral theories are false. Finally, in the context of discussing cases that are supposed to reveal intuitions that favour either objective or subjective consequentialism, the book argues that which cases are relevant for the discussion of objectivism and subjectivism depends on the type of moral theory we are concerned with (consequentialism, Kantianism, virtue ethics, etc.). From Value to Rightness will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in normative ethics and metaethics.

Purpose in the Universe

By Tim Mulgan
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : OUP Oxford
  • Book Code : 0191066575
  • Total of Pages : 448
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 984
  • Pdf File: purpose-in-the-universe.pdf

Book Short Summary:

Two familiar worldviews dominate Western philosophy: materialist atheism and the benevolent God of the Abrahamic faiths. Tim Mulgan explores a third way. Ananthropocentric Purposivism claims that there is a cosmic purpose, but human beings are irrelevant to it. Purpose in the Universe develops a philosophical case for Ananthropocentric Purposivism that it is at least as strong as the case for either theism or atheism. The book borrows traditional theist arguments to defend a cosmic purpose. These include cosmological, teleological, ontological, meta-ethical, and mystical arguments. It then borrows traditional atheist arguments to reject a human-centred purpose. These include arguments based on evil, diversity, and the scale of the universe. Mulgan also highlights connections between morality and metaphysics, arguing that evaluative premises play a crucial and underappreciated role in metaphysical debates about the existence of God, and Ananthropocentric Purposivism mutually supports an austere consequentialist morality based on objective values. He concludes that, by drawing on a range of secular and religious ethical traditions, a non-human-centred cosmic purpose can ground a distinctive human morality. Our moral practices, our view of the moral universe, and our moral theory are all transformed if we shift from the familiar choice between a universe without meaning and a universe where humans matter to the less self-aggrandising thought that, while it is about something, the universe is not about us.

Reading Parfit

By Simon Kirchin
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : Taylor & Francis
  • Book Code : 135184718X
  • Total of Pages : 242
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 326
  • Pdf File: reading-parfit.pdf

Book Short Summary:

Derek Parfit was one of the world’s leading philosophers. His On What Matters was the most eagerly awaited book in philosophy for many years. Reading Parfit: On What Matters is an essential overview and assessment of volumes 1 and 2 of Parfit’s monumental work by a team of international contributors, and includes responses by Parfit himself. It discusses central features of Parfit’s book, including the structure and nature of reasons; the ideas underlying moral principles; Parfit’s discussions of consequentialism, contractualism and Kantian deontology; and his metaethical ideas and arguments. Reading Parfit will be central reading for students of ethics and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of one of the most important works of philosophy published in the last fifty years.

Setting Health-Care Priorities

By Torbjörn Tännsjö
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : Oxford University Press
  • Book Code : 019094689X
  • Total of Pages : 288
  • Category : Science
  • Members : 710
  • Pdf File: setting-health-care-priorities.pdf

Book Short Summary:

With much of the world's population facing restricted access to adequate medical care, how to allocate scarce health-care resources is a pressing question for governments, hospitals, and individuals. How do we decide where funding for health-care programs should go? Tannsjo here approaches the subject from a philosophical perspective, balancing theoretical treatments of distributive ethics with real-world examples of how health-care is administered around the world today. Tannsjo begins by laying out several popular ethical theories-utilitarianism, which recommends maximizing the best overall outcome; egalitarianism, which recommends smoothing out the differences between people as much as possible; and the maximin/leximin theory, which urges people to give absolute priority to those who are worst off. Tannsjo shows how, in abstract thought experiments, these theories come into conflict with each other and reveal puzzling implications. He goes on to argue, however, that when we consider health-care in the real-world, these theories all agree on a central point: in a well-ordered welfare state, more resources should be directed to the care and cure of people suffering from mental illness, and less to the marginal life extension of elderly patients. Tannsjo's book thus recommends a shift in spending to increase fairness and overall utility-while also recognizing that this kind of dispassionate suggestion, with its purely economic foundation, is unlikely to take hold in policy. Tannsjo's analysis is a case study in how ethical theories can sometimes lead to rational conclusions and recommendations that we are not prepared to accept.

Adam Smith

By Eric Schliesser
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : Oxford University Press
  • Book Code : 0190690143
  • Total of Pages : 352
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 277
  • Pdf File: adam-smith.pdf

Book Short Summary:

Eric Schliesser's Adam Smith is the product of two decades' reflection by the author on the great Scottish Enlightenment. Unique among treatments of Adam Smith, Schliesser's book treats him as a systematic philosopher. Smith was a giant of the Scottish Enlightenment with polymath interests; Schliesser thus explores Smith's economics and ethics in light of his other commitments on the nature of knowledge, the theory of emotions, the theory of mind, his account of language, the nature of causation, and his views on methodology. He places Smith's ideas in the context of a host of other philosophers, especially Hume, Rousseau, and Newton; and he draws on the reception of Smith's ideas by Sophie de Grouchy, Mary Wollstonecraft, and other philosophers and economists to sketch the elements of, and the detailed connections within, Smith's system. Adam Smith traces the outlines of Smith's intellectual system and situates it in the context of his highly developed views on the norms that govern responsible speech. In particular, the book articulates Smith's concerns about the impact of his public policy recommendations, especially on the least powerful in society. In so doing, Schliesser offers new interpretations of Smith's views on the invisible hand, the Wealth of Nations, his treatment of virtue, the nature of freedom, the individual's relationship to society, his account of the passions, the moral roles of religion, and his treatment of the role of mathematics in economics. While the book does offer a single argument, it is organized in a modular fashion and includes a helpful index; readers with a more focused interest in Smith's achievements can skip to their section of interest.

The Routledge Companion to Ethics

By John Skorupski
  • File : Pdf, ePub, Mobi, Kindle
  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Book Code : 1136964215
  • Total of Pages : 880
  • Category : Philosophy
  • Members : 845
  • Pdf File: the-routledge-companion-to-ethics.pdf

Book Short Summary:

The Routledge Companion to Ethics is an outstanding survey of the whole field of ethics by a distinguished international team of contributors. Over 60 chapters are divided into six clear sections: the history of ethics meta-ethics perspectives from outside ethics ethical perspectives morality debates in ethics. The Companion opens with a comprehensive historical overview of ethics, including chapters on Plato, Aristotle, Hume, and Kant, and ethical thinking in China, India and the Arabic tradition. The second part covers the domain of meta-ethics. The third part covers important challenges to ethics from the fields of anthropology, psychology, sociobiology and economics. The fourth and fifth sections cover competing theories of ethics and the nature of morality respectively, with entries on consequentialism, Kantian morality, virtue ethics, relativism, evil, and responsibility amongst many others. A comprehensive final section includes the most important topics and controversies in applied ethics, such as rights, justice and distribution, the end of life, the environment, poverty, war and terrorism. The Routledge Companion to Ethics is a superb resource for anyone interested in the subject, whether in philosophy or related disciplines such as politics, education, or law. Fully indexed and cross-referenced, with helpful further reading sections at the end of each chapter, it is ideal for those coming to the field of ethics for the first time as well as readers already familiar with the subject.