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John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life$
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Ben Eggleston, Dale Miller, and David Weinstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381245

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381245.001.0001

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Rules and Their Reasons

Rules and Their Reasons

Mill on Morality and Instrumental Rationality

(p.71) 3 Rules and Their Reasons
John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life

Ben Eggleston

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the question of what role Mill regards rules as playing in the determination of morally permissible action by drawing on his remarks about instrumentally rational action. First, overviews are provided of consequentialist theories and of the rule-worship or incoherence objection to rule-consequentialist theories. Then a summary is offered of the considerable textual evidence suggesting that Mill's moral theory is, in fact, a rule-consequentialist one. It is argued, however, that passages in the final chapter of A System of Logic suggest that Mill anticipates and endorses the rule-worship or incoherence objection to rule-consequentialist theories. The chapter concludes by exploring some ways in which this tension in Mill's thought might be resolved.

Keywords:   John Stuart Mill, Art of Life, instrumental rationality, morality, rules, rule utilitarianism, rule consequentialism, rule worship, incoherence

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