‘Taking Utilitarianism Seriously’

Christopher Woodard, Taking Utilitarianism Seriously, Oxford University Press, 2019, 244pp, $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198732624. Christopher Woodard sets himself a difficult task here. Utilitarian theories are a subset of consequentialist theories, but even many of Woodard’s fellow consequentialists take themselves to have compelling reasons to reject certain commitments distinctive of utilitarian forms of consequentialism. They have outgrown utilitarianism, and have developed arguments for distinctively non-utilitarian forms of consequentialism that are grounded in deep features of prevailing accounts of attitudes and actions. If so many consequentialists no longer take utilitarianism to be a plausible form of consequentialism, and take themselves to have good reasons for focusing on other, less problematic forms, why should those of us who find consequentialism itself problematic take utilitarianism seriously? … (more)

[Paul Hurley, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 25 June]

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