Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew Jason Cohen

Second Advisor

Andrew Altman

Third Advisor

William Edmundson


In this paper I argue that Liam Murphy’s collective consequentialism—emphasizing fairness instead of maximization of value—is not an adequate response to the demandingness objections levied at consequentialism. Especially since Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” many have objected that consequentialism is far too demanding, particularly concerning our obligations of assistance to those in extreme poverty. Murphy thinks that the problem is not that consequentialism is necessarily too demanding; it is that, in our nonideal world of partial compliance, consequentialism is too demanding on those who comply with its dictates. I hope to show that Murphy’s theory is unsatisfying. I will not defend any particular version of consequentialism over alternative consequentialist theories, nor will I defend consequentialism over alternative non-consequentialist moral theories. My aim is far narrower: To show that those who accept a broadly consequentialist account of morality have little reason to accept Murphy’s collective consequentialism.