Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article


Brad Hookera1

a1 Philosophy, University of Reading


This paper starts by addressing some objections to the very idea of aggregate social good. The paper goes on to review the case for letting aggregate social good be not only morally relevant but also sometimes morally decisive. Then the paper surveys objections to letting aggregate social good determine personal or political decisions. The paper goes on to argue against the idea that aggregate good is sensitive to desert and the idea that aggregate good should be construed as incorporating agent-relativity.


This paper was one of the ones written while I held a research readership funded by the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences. I am very grateful to the British Academy for the support. This paper was presented at the University of Reading and the University of Stirling. I am grateful to Peter Boltuc, Bryan Caplan, Andrew I. Cohen, Rowan Cruft, Jonathan Dancy, David Faraci, Brian Feltham, Guy Fletcher, Ian Folland, Russell Hardin, Iwao Hirose, Frances Kamm, Ambrose Lee, Mari Mikkola, Alan Millar, Elijah Millgram, Peter Milne, Jan Narveson, Alastair Norcross, Douglas Portmore, Anne Raustol, Jonathan Riley, David Sosa, Jussi Suikkanen, Peter Sullivan, Fiona Woollard, and Peter Vallentyne for helpful comments. I am especially grateful to Ellen Frankel Paul for pages of careful criticisms of an earlier draft.