Morality within the Limits of Reason / Edition 1

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This provocative, lucidly written reconstruction of utilitarianism focuses on the practical constraints involved in ethical choice: information may be inadequate, and understanding of causes and effects may be limited. Good decision making may be especially constrained if other people are closely involved in determining an outcome. Hardin demonstrates that many of these structural issues can and should be distinguished from the thornier problems of utilitarian value theory, and he is able to show what kinds of moral conclusions we can reach within the limits of reason.

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Editorial Reviews

A reconstruction of utilitarian philosophy focusing on the limited knowledge and imperfect understanding that necessarily characterize most ethical decisions. Hardin (philosphy and political science, U. of Chicago) argues that ethical choice is ultimately a form of practical choice, thus moral and political philosophy are inextricably intertwined. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226316208
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2008
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 254
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Russell Hardin is the Mellon Foundation Professor of Political Science, Philosophy, and Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Introduction An Overview
1. Limits of Reason in Moral Theory Limits of Reason Strategic Interaction and Moral Theory Moral and Political Theory Rule-Utilitarianism and Act-Utilitarianism The Utilitarian Program Peculiar Examples and Ethical Argument
2. The Strategic Structure of Moral Problems The Strategic Categories Pure Conflict Interactions Mixed-Motive Interactions Pure Coordination Interactions Value Theory Issues Promising Generalization Agency in Social Interactions Appendix: The Completeness and Relevance of the Typology of Moral Problems
3. Institutional Utilitarianism I: Without Interpersonal Comparisons The Strategy of Rights Individual Protections Dyadic Protections Collective Protections Group Rights The Institutionalization of Rights Practices and Rules Rights versus Unanimity Contractarianism
4. Institutional Utilitarianism II: With Interpersonal Comparisons Conflicts between Rights Piecemeal versus Overall Justifications of Rights Distributive Justice Paternalism Institutionalized Interventions Ad Hoc Interventions Collective Responsibility Welfare, Incentives, and Policies
5. Utilitarian Value Theory Utility Theory Intuitions in Moral Theory Personal Identity and Weakness of Will Endogeneity of Preferences and Individual Autonomy Utilitarianism and the Limits of Welfare Theory References Index

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