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Human Nature and the Best Consequentialist Moral System

49 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2002  

Louis Kaplow

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

Steven Shavell

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

Date Written: February 2002

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.

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=304384 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.304384

Louis Kaplow (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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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

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3668 (Phone)
617-496-2256 (Fax)

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