The Reworking of Utilitarianism

J. B. Schneewind

in Sidgwick's Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy

Published in print November 1986 | ISBN: 9780198249313
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598357 | DOI:
 The Reworking of Utilitarianism

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An appeal to moral rules, which is far from being a reverence to common-sense maxims, may refute two serious criticisms of the utilitarian view — that we cannot actually use the utilitarian principle in specific cases to find out what to do, and that the principle leads to morally repugnant results. An appeal to rules to respond to the first criticism was readily acceptable even to utilitarians bent on reform. However, reference to the rules of common sense to answer the second criticism was not easily incorporated into the reformist outlook. It only became a fully acknowledged part of secular utilitarian theory in the work of John Stuart Mill.

Keywords: moral philosophy; utilitarianism; common sense; ethics; utilitarian principle

Chapter.  15247 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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