Satisficing consequentialism still doesn't satisfy

Joe Slater*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Satisficing consequentialism is an unpopular theory. Because it permits gratuitous sub-optimal behaviour, it strikes many as wildly implausible. It has been widely rejected as a tenable moral theory for more than twenty years. In this article, I rehearse the arguments behind this unpopularity, before examining an attempt to redeem satisficing. Richard Yetter Chappell has recently defended a form of 'effort satisficing consequentialism'. By incorporating an 'effort ceiling' - a limit on the amount of willpower a situation requires - and requiring that agents produce at least as much good as they could given how much effort they are exerting, Chappell avoids the obvious objections. However, I demonstrate that the revised theory is susceptible to a different objection, and that the resulting view requires that any supererogatory behaviour must be efficient, which fails to match typical moral verdicts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Early online date18 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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