Volume 38, 2013
A Contractualist Defense of Rule Consequentialism
In this paper, I provide a defense of rule consequentialism that does not appeal to the “guiding teleological idea” according to which the final ground of moral assessment must lie in effects on well-being. My defense also avoids appeals to intuition. It is a contractualist defense. Many forms of contractualism can, with only minor tweaking, be used to defend rule consequentialism. In this paper I show how one specific form of contractualism does the job. This argument is inspired by a version of contractualism briefly discussed by Tim Mulgan and by his claim that it converges with rule consequentialism, given certain restrictions. I show that Mulgan’s own argument for convergence is seriously flawed, but that a variation on his contractualism does converge with rule consequentialism, and it does it without Mulgan’s own restrictions. Though Mulgan himself does not treat convergence as an argument for rule consequentialism—his own argument is heavily intuitionistic—I claim that convergence provides significant support for rule consequentialism.