If one sought to present utilitarianism through the work of three of its prominent 20th Century theorists, which ones would make the most sense in the context of a general overview of the literature on act utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism, and motive utilitarianism?

1 Answer 1


Three well-known 20th/21st Century Utilitarians:

Peter Singer, currently at Princeton. Famous for the article "Famine, Affluence, and Morality"

J.J. C. Smart co-author of Utilitarianism for and Against.

R.M. Hare famous for defending a version of what is often considered rule utilitarianism. (Not to be confused with his son who is also a philosopher)

  • Quick question: For rule-utilitarianism, would you feature Hare over Harsanyi? Would Hare provide a better general overview of rule-utilitarianism for readers? Or, would it be better to feature Harsanyi and show that he followed from Hare's work?
    – EVolk
    Dec 21, 2015 at 4:39
  • I think I misread your question. I'm not a utilitarian so I may not be the person to pick the absolute best three representatives for the position. These are three that first sprang to mind in the contemporary context for me.
    – virmaior
    Dec 21, 2015 at 4:41

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