Naive vs. sophisticated consequentialism

As for a concrete example, a naive conception of consequentialism may lead one to believe that it is right to break rules if it seems that that would have net positivethe immediate effects on the world.world would be net-positive. Such rule-breaking normally has negative side-effects, however - e.g. it can lower the degree of trust in society, and for the rule-breaker’s group in particular - which means that sophisticated consequentialism tends to be more opposed to rule-breaking than naive consequentialism.

This seems a bit inaccurate to me in a few ways, but I'm unsure how accurate we want to be here.

First, when the entry talks about "consequentialism" it seems to identify it with a decision procedure:  "Consequentialists are supposed to estimate all of the effects of their actions, and then add them up appropriately". In the literature, there is usually a distinction made between consequentialism as a criterion of rightness and a decision procedure, and it seems to me like many endorse the latter and not the former. 

Secondly, it seems to identify consequentialism with act-consequentialism, because it only refers to consequences of individual actions as the criterion for evaluation. 

Consequentialists are supposed to estimate all of the effects of their actions, and then add them up appropriately. This means that they cannot just look at the direct and immediate effects of their actions, but also have to look at indirect and less immediate effects. Failing to do so amounts to applying naive consequentialism. That is to be contrasted with sophisticated consequentialism, which appropriately takes indirect and less immediate effects into account (cf. the discussion on “simplistic” vs. “correct” replaceability on 80,000 Hours’ blog (Todd 2015)[1]).

BibliographyFurther reading

Related entries

accidental harm | consequentialism | fanaticism | indirect long-term effects

  1. ^

Christiano, Paul (2013)(2016) ReplaceabilityIntegrity for consequentialists, Rational AltruistThe Sideways View, January 22.November 14.

Christiano, Paul (2016)(2013) Integrity for consequentialistsReplaceability, The Sideways ViewRational Altruist, November 14.January 22.

Consequentialists are supposed to estimate all of the effects of their actions, and then add them up appropriately. This means that they cannot just look at the direct and immediate effects of their actions, but also have to look at indirect and less immediate effects. Failing to do so amounts to applying naive consequentialism. That is to be contrasted with sophisticated consequentialism, which appropriately takes indirect and less immediate effects into account (cf. the discussion on “simplistic” vs. “correct” replaceability on 80,000 Hours’ blog (80,000 Hours,(Todd 2015)).

Further readingBibliography

80’000 Hours. 2015.Christiano, Paul (2016) “Replaceability”Integrity for consequentialists, The Sideways View, November 14.

Todd, Benjamin (2015) ‘Replaceability’ isn’t as important as you might think (or we’ve suggested)., 80,000 Hours, July 27.

Christiano, Paul. 2016. Integrity for consequentialists.

accidental harm | consequentialism | fanaticism | indirect long-term effects