Common Knowledge : A New Problem for Standard Consequentialism

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This paper reveals a serious flaw in the consequentialist solution to the inefficacy problem in moral philosophy. The consequentialist solution is based on expected utility theory. In current philosophical literature, the debate focuses on the empirical plausibility of the solution. Most philosophers consider the cases of collective actions as of the same type as a horse-racing game, where expected utility theory is adequate to solve the choice problem. However, these cases should be considered as of the same type as a coordination game, where the assumption of common knowledge is also required. However, the assumption is implausible—it is impossible to obtain common knowledge of rationality in cases such as voting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-314
Number of pages16
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number2
Early online date2 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers’ comments and suggestion. I am also grateful to for Davide Fassio and Jie Gao’s extremely helpful comments on the early version of this article. I thank all the audiences who gave me inspiring feedbacks during my seminars at Zhejiang University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Common knowledge
  • Consequentialism
  • Triggering cases
  • Voting paradox


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