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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 1, 1975

Henry R. West
Pages 239-243

Comparing Utilitarianisms

Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism, in one formu lation of each, are not extensionally equivalent, that is, they do not require of an agent precisely the same behavior as is shown by Gerald Barnes in "Utilitarianisms”, Ethics 82 (197I) 56-64. As a result each theory passes and sometimes fails different utilitarian tests: the comparative consequences of universal conformity by everyone (distributively) vs. universal conformity by everyone (collectively) Barnes argues that the latter is the appropriate test. I argue that the test which AU passes is the appropriate one, since everyone, collectively, does not make moral choices. Moral choices are made by everyone individually.

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