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Reasons for Rule Consequentialists

Woodard, Christopher

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Professor of Moral & Political Philosophy


This paper explores what a Rule Consequentialist of Brad Hooker's sort can and should say about normative reasons for action. I claim that they can provide a theory of reasons, but that doing so requires distinguishing different roles of rules in the ideal code. Some rules in the ideal code specify reasons, while others perform different functions. The paper also discusses a choice that Rule Consequentialists face about how exactly to specify reasons. It ends by comparing the theory of reasons offered by Rule Consequentialism with the theory offered by Act Consequentialism, noting that Rule Consequentialism seems better able to explain moral constraints. Brad Hooker defines his version of Rule Consequentialism as a claim about the wrongness of actions (2000a, p. 32). Yet the view that he elaborates is much broader than this definition might suggest. As well as developing the general theory of wrongness of actions in detail, he shows how to apply it to several specific practical issues. Hooker also shows how his version of Rule Consequentialism generates insights about matters other than the rightness and wrongness of actions. Because his theory is based on the idea of a code that is to be internalized, it has implications for how agents should be motivated, for how they should deliberate, and for other ways in which they should think and feel about ethical issues. In my view this breadth is one of the things that makes his theory such a remarkable achievement. 1 Few philosophers have had such success in presenting a theory that is at once a highly 1 Another is the strong sense that one has in reading his work of being guided expertly around the issues that really matter.


Woodard, C. (2022). Reasons for Rule Consequentialists. Ratio, 35(4), 251-260.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 17, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 3, 2022
Publication Date 2022-12
Deposit Date Jul 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 4, 2024
Journal Ratio
Print ISSN 0034-0006
Electronic ISSN 1467-9329
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 4
Pages 251-260
Keywords Act Consequentialism; Brad Hooker; moral constraints; reasons for action; Rule Consequentialism; rules
Public URL
Publisher URL


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