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Hare, was an English moral philosopher who held the post of White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford from 1966 until 1983. Hare is best known for his development of prescriptivism as a meta-ethical theory, the m-R PDF of formal features of moral discourse justifying preference utilitarianism.


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Richard Hare was born in Backwell, Somerset. He returned to Oxford after the war, and in 1947, married Catherine Verney, a marriage that produced a son and three daughters. He died in Ewelme, Oxfordshire on 29 January 2002 after suffering a series of strokes. Hare was greatly influenced by the emotivism of A. Stevenson, the ordinary language philosophy of J. Hare held that ethical rules should not be based on a principle of utility, though he took into account utilitarian considerations. His hybrid approach to meta-ethics distinguishes him from classical utilitarians like Jeremy Bentham.

Hare gave shape to a theory that he called universal prescriptivism. Hare argued that the combination of universalizability and prescriptivity leads to a certain form of consequentialism, namely, preference utilitarianism. In brief, this means that we should act in such a way as to maximise the satisfaction of people’s preferences. To ignore consequences leads to absurdity: for example, that it would be wrong to steal a terrorist’s plans to blow up a nuclear facility.