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    Second order consequentialism: a defense

    Nilekani, Nihar Nandan (2022) Second order consequentialism: a defense. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis is a defense of Second Order Consequentialism (SOC). Whereas first order consequentialism is the claim that we should perform the action that results in the best consequences, SOC is the claim that we should adopt the moral theory for which it is true that adopting it would have the best consequences. I argue that this form of consequentialism has many of the traditional virtues of consequentialism, but by virtue of its indirectness it conflicts less with our intuitions and produces more desirable outcomes at the level of moral decision making. I argue that we have good reasons to make a distinction between first and second order theories, independent of any problems with consequentialism. I further argue that certain ethical problems –most notably the problem of demandingness and the concept of threshold deontology –cannot be properly addressed without a second order theory of some kind. I will then apply SOC to these areas to demonstrate how a second order theory can be used to fruitfully address problems like these. Finally, I will explore the idea of first order pluralism with a unifying second order theory. Second-order theories in general provide us with a framework by which we can interrogate our intuitions, particularly those that we have reason to think are in some way suspect or biased. Further, second order theories can be more easily made sensitive to changed circumstances or relevant information, without requiring awkward additions or clauses attached to the theory, as is often the case with first-order theories. Many of these are virtues of all second-order theories, including nonconsequentialist ones, but second order consequentialism is particularly promising due to its relative simplicity, and I think worth considering first before we jump to more, perhaps unnecessarily complicated, second order theories.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2022 16:53
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:44


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