Does Robert Goodin’s adapted form of utilitarianism, built for the guidance of elected public officials, provide a common language with which the highly disparate arguments for and against gun control can employ in search of a policy resolution? This project utilizes Robert Goodin’s work, Utilitarianism as a Public Philosophy (1995) and Jeremy Bentham’s informing theory, voiced in An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1823) as the foundation upon which conclusions are drawn. By primarily analyzing the components of the arguments made in support of unregulated gun ownership, this project avoids the repetition of research already completed that demonstrates the compatibility of an empirically minded pro-regulation stance with utilitarianism. This project assumes that the pro-regulation stance is largely compatible with the utilitarian method. The conclusions of this project suggest that a successful, product-oriented conversation between the two primary stances in the gun debate will not occur unless the conceptual, subjective terms used in the conversation are mutual.


Weaver, Mark


Political Science


Political Theory


Firearms, Utilitarianism, Robert E. Goodin, Regulation

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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