Taking Utilitarianism Seriously

ISBN : 9780198732624

Christopher Woodard
256 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Aug 2019
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Utilitarianism is the idea that ethics is ultimately about what makes people's lives go better. While utilitarian ideas remain highly influential in politics and culture, they are subject to many well-developed philosophical criticisms, such as the claim that utilitarianism requires too much of us and the view that it does not respect individuals' rights. The theory is widely thought by philosophers to be the least plausible form of consequentialism, hampered by its excessive simplicity. In Taking Utilitarianism Seriously, Christopher Woodard argues that it is not defeated by the standard objections. He presents a new and rich version of utilitarianism that can answer all six commons objections plausibly and, in doing so, launches a state-of-the-art defence of the utilitarian tradition, which has greater resources than its critics have often assumed. Far from being excessively simple, utilitarianism is able to account for much of the complexity and nuance of everyday ethical thought. And rather than being quickly dismissed, utilitarian approaches to moral and political philosophy are due for renewed development and discussion.


1 Six Objections
2 Basic Ideas
3 Well-Being
4 Two Kinds of Reason
5 Moral Rights
6 Justice and Equality
7 Legitimacy and Democracy
8 Virtuous Agents
9 Conclusion

About the author: 

Christopher Woodard is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Prior to joining Nottingham in 2002, he studied and worked at the University of Warwick. His research spans moral and political philosophy, with a particular focus on consequentialist ethics and theories of well-being.

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