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- Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:
Introduction: Bernard Williams’s integrity objection against utilitarianism has made a very influential contribution to the view that utilitarianism is so demanding that it cannot be a serious option. Utilitarians, on the other hand, have generally denied that a suitably sophisticated version of utilitarianism is incompatible with agents’ integrity. I argue here that, if we examine what a valuable conception of integrity consists in, we can see that it actually commits us, in the current state of the world, to extremely demanding moral obligations, on any plausible account of our moral obligations, including Williams’s own. I then argue, however, that any such account of these obligations has difficulty in providing a rationale for how a fundamental conflict between them and agents’ pursuit of their personal projects can be avoided. I conclude that it is, in fact, a strength of utilitarianism that it acknowledges that this conflict cannot be resolved and makes explicit the extent to which our integrity is currently compromised. I lastly argue that there is a practically realizable state of the world in which utilitarian moral obligations would not seriously conflict with agents’ pursuit of their personal projects.
Comment: This text offers a discussion of some of the major objections to utilitarianism. It is useful as a core reading in teaching advanced modules on moral theories, or as a further reading in a more general ethics course.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format
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- Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter
Abstract: Empirical research into moral decision-making is often taken to have normative implications. For instance, in his recent book, Greene (2013) relies on empirical findings to establish utilitarianism as a superior normative ethical theory. Kantian ethics, and deontological ethics more generally, is a rival view that Greene attacks. At the heart of Greene’s argument against deontology is the claim that deontological moral judgments are the product of certain emotions and not of reason. Deontological ethics is a mere rationalization of these emotions. Accordingly Greene maintains that deontology should be abandoned. This paper is a defense of deontological ethical theory. It argues that Greene’s argument against deontology needs further support. Greene’s empirical evidence is open to alternative interpretations. In particular, it is not clear that Greene’s characterization of alarm-like emotions that are relative to culture and personal experience is empirically tenable. Moreover, it is implausible that such emotions produce specifically deontological judgments. A rival sentimentalist view, according to which all moral judgments are determined by emotion, is at least as plausible given the empirical evidence and independently supported by philosophical theory. I therefore call for an improvement of Greene’s argument.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format