Hooker’s rule-consequentialism and Scanlon’s contractualism – a re-evaluation

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Brad Hooker’s rule-consequentialism and T.M. Scanlon’s contractualism have been some of the most debated ethical theories in normative ethics during the last twenty years or so. This article suggests that these theories can be compared at two levels. Firstly, what are the deep, structural differences between the rule-consequentialist and contractualist frameworks in which Hooker and Scanlon formulate their views? Secondly, what are the more superficial differences between Hooker’s and Scanlon’s formulations of these theories? Based on exploring these questions and several purported differences between Hooker’s and Scanlon’s views, this article argues that, at the structural level, the two theories are more similar than previous recognised. It suggests that there is only one candidate for a deeper difference and even it may not be that significant. This insight sheds new light on both contractualism and rule-consequentialism, and it will also help us to formulate better versions of the views.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12351
Pages (from-to)261-274
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Early online date3 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author. Ratio published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Ethical Theory
  • Rule-Consequentialism
  • Contractualism
  • T. M. Scanlon
  • Brad Hooker
  • normative ethics
  • contractualism
  • ethical theory
  • rule-consequentialism
  • rule‐consequentialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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