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: 5/28/1990
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 254
  • Sales rank: 1,524,890
  • 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

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
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
4. Institutional Utilitarianism II: With Interpersonal Comparisons
Conflicts between Rights
Piecemeal versus Overall Justifications of Rights
Distributive Justice
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

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