Ross and Rule‐Consequentialism

Thomas L. Carson

in Lying and Deception

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577415
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722813 | DOI:
Ross and Rule‐Consequentialism

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If lying and not lying will have exactly the same consequences, then, according to act-utilitarianism, it doesn't matter whether or not one lies. Ross claims that lying is prima facie wrong, or wrong other things being equal. He holds that this is “self-evident.” Ross also thinks that it is obvious that it is wrong to lie when lying produces only slightly better consequences than not lying. In contrast with Ross, Moore claims that it is self-evident that we should always do whatever has the best consequences. Ross's criticisms of act-utilitarianism are inconclusive because they appeal to disputed moral intuitions and because he doesn't do enough to justify his own moral intuitions. Brad Hooker's argument in favor of his well-known version of rule-consequentialism is inconclusive for similar reasons — it rests on an appeal to disputed considered moral judgments that he doesn't adequately justify.

Keywords: Ross; prima facie duty; promising; moral intuitions; moral disagreement; reflective equilibrium; rule-consequenialism; utilitarianism; Hooker

Chapter.  12294 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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