Against Satisficing Consequentialism

BEN BRADLEY
2006 Utilitas  
The move to satisficing has been thought to help consequentialists avoid the problem of demandingness. But this is a mistake. In this paper I formulate several versions of satisficing consequentialism. I show that every version is unacceptable, because every version permits agents to bring about a submaximal outcome in order to prevent a better outcome from obtaining. Some satisficers try to avoid this problem by incorporating a notion of personal sacrifice into the view. I show that these
more » ... how that these attempts are unsuccessful. I conclude that, if satisficing consequentialism is to remain a position worth considering, satisficers must show (i) that the move to satisficing is necessary to solve some problem, whether it be the demandingness problem or some other problem, and (ii) that there is a version of the view that does not permit the gratuitous prevention of goodness. Michael Slote famously suggested that consequentialists should make use of the notion of satisficing in order to bring consequentialism more in line with 'common sense.' Slote presented a number of examples designed to illustrate the permissibility of satisficing. It is permissible, he said, for the fairy-tale hero to ask the gods just to make him and his family comfortable, even though he could ask for much more, and for the motel owner to offer the stranded motorists the first available satisfactory room, rather than the best room in the motel. 1
doi:10.1017/s0953820806001877 fatcat:4m7ihv273ffwzeree336xm5oga