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Human Nature and the Best Consequentialist Moral System


Louis Kaplow


Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven Shavell


Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

February 2002

Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 349

Abstract:     
In this article, we ask what system of moral rules would be best from a consequentialist perspective, given certain aspects of human nature. This question is of inherent conceptual interest and is important to explore in order better to understand the moral systems that we observe and to illuminate longstanding debates in moral theory. We make what seem to be plausible assumptions about aspects of human nature and the moral sentiments and then derive conclusions about the optimal consequentialist moral system - concerning which acts should be deemed right and wrong, and to what degree. We suggest that our results have some correspondence with observed moral systems and also help to clarify certain points of disagreement among moral theorists.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 49

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Date posted: March 18, 2002  

Suggested Citation

Kaplow, Louis and Shavell, Steven, Human Nature and the Best Consequentialist Moral System (February 2002). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 349. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=304384 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.304384

Contact Information

Louis Kaplow (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-4101 (Phone)
617-496-4880 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/facdir.php?id=32&show=bibliography
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Steven Shavell
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3668 (Phone)
617-496-2256 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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