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Individual Obligation and Group Welfare

  • Fred Feldman
Chapter
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 35)

Abstract

Many moral thinkers have accepted the notion that there is an important connection between moral obligation and group welfare. More specifically, they have thought that the welfare of a social group would more-or-less automatically be maximized if all the members of that group were to do their moral obligations.1 We can say that any doctrine to this effect is a version of the “principle of moral harmony” (PMH).

Keywords

Social Group Moral Obligation Social Obligation Group Welfare Partial Compliance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes to Chapter 7

  1. 1a.
    Among the many advocates of this view are: George Berkeley, Passive Obedience, in Mary W. Calkins, ed., Berkeley: Selections (New York: Scribner’s, 1929), pp. 427–469;Google Scholar
  2. 1b.
    Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, in E. A. Burtt, ed., The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill (New York: Modern Library, 1949), p. 796Google Scholar
  3. 1c.
    Stephen Toulmin, The Place of Reason in Ethics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1950)Google Scholar
  4. 1d.
    Kurt Baier, The Moral Point of View, abridged edition (New York: Random House, 1965).Google Scholar
  5. 3a.
    See, for example, Gerald Barnes, ‘Utilitarianisms,’ Ethics LXXXII (October, 1971), 56–64 andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 3b.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Used by Gerald Barnes in ‘Utilitarianisms,’ Ethics LXXXII, 1 (October, 1971), 56–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 5.
    Used by me in ‘The Principle of Moral Harmony,’ The Journal of Philosophy LXXVII, 3 (March, 1980), 171–174.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    Used by Donald Regan in Utilitarianism and Cooperation, (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  10. 7a.
    See also Allan Gibbard, ‘Rule Utilitarianism: Merely an Illusory Alternative?,’ Australasian Journal of Philosophy 43 (1965), 211–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 7b.
    Jordan Howard Sobel has written extensively on questions concerning individual obligations and group welfare. See, for example: “Everyone”, Consequences, and Generalization Arguments,’ Inquiry 10 (1967), 373–404;Google Scholar
  12. 7c.
    ‘Utilitarianism: Simple and General,’ Inquiry 13 (1970), 394– 449;Google Scholar
  13. 7d.
    ‘The Need for Coercion,’ Coercion: Nomos XIV, edited by J. R. Pennock and John W. Chapman, (Chicago/New York: Aldine-Atherton, Inc., 1972), 148–177;Google Scholar
  14. 7e.
    ‘Interaction Problems for Utility Maximizers,’ Canadian Journal of Philosophy IV, 4 (June, 1975), 677–688;Google Scholar
  15. 7f.
    ‘Utility Maximizers in Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemmas,’ Dialogue, (1976); ‘Everyone’s Conforming to a Rule,’ Philosophical Studies 48 (1985), 375–387.Google Scholar
  16. 8a.
    There is a large body of literature on group action. Bibliographies can be found in David Copp, ‘Collective Actions and Secondary Actions,’ American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1979), 177–186;Google Scholar
  17. 8b.
    and Michael McKinsey, ‘Obligations to the Starving, Noûs XV (1981), 309–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 11.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980). In subsequent footnotes, I refer to this book as ‘Regan’.Google Scholar
  19. 12.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, p. 124Google Scholar
  20. 13.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, pp. 135–136.Google Scholar
  21. 14.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, pp. 109–123.Google Scholar
  22. 15.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, pp. 177–178.Google Scholar
  23. 17.
    Noûs XVIII, 1 (March, 1984), 152–159.Google Scholar
  24. 18.
    For Regan’s comment on this sort of objection, see Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, pp. 172–174.Google Scholar
  25. 19.
    Pointed out by Barley, op. cit., p. 157, as well as by Earl Conee in his review which appeared in The Journal of Philosophy LXXX, 7 (July, 1983), 415–424.Google Scholar
  26. 20.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, p. 177.Google Scholar
  27. 21.
    Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, pp. 177–185.Google Scholar
  28. 22.
    This point is made by Conee, op. cit., p. 421.Google Scholar
  29. 24.
    For Regan’s definition, see Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, p. 6.Google Scholar
  30. 25.
    See Donald Regan, Utilitarianism and Co-operation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1980) Regan, pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  31. 26.
    The reader is invited to compare this argument with Regan’s argument on pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  32. 27.
    A similar view is suggested by Conee, op. cit., p. 422.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Feldman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstUSA

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