MIT 24 231 - A Critique of Utilitarianism (5 pages)

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A Critique of Utilitarianism



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A Critique of Utilitarianism

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Lecture Notes


Pages:
5
School:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Course:
24 231 - Ethics

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24 231 Ethics Handout 13 Williams A Critique of Utilitarianism First some preliminaries It s important to be clear about what views Williams argument and the other arguments we ve been considering target 1 What matters to determining the moral status right required permissible impermissible of my actions Consequentialism Only the amount of good produced by my actions is relevant to their moral status The right act is the one that produces the most good Consequentialism requires that we can identify what is good before we know what is right Deontology There may be factors other than the amount of good they produce that are relevant to determining the moral status of my actions Some ways of thinking about this i there may be constraints on what I may morally do for the say of producing the most good e g sacrificing the innocent violating rights ii in addition to how much good my actions produce it may matter whether I am doing harm to someone to produce it rather than merely allowing harms to persist which I could have prevented iii it may matter to the moral assessment of my act whether harms it allows to happen were brought about by other agents iv some actions may be required or permissible for me in virtue of who I am even if they produce less good than alternative actions agent relative duties or permissions v there may be some other morally relevant factors such as whether goods have been distributed equally or whether people have gotten what they deserve that are not best understood as being themselves goods as opposed to moral requirements if equality e g is to be understood as a good that might invite the leveling down objection and if we do take equal distribution or people getting what they deserve to be goods they might not be goods we can identify without a prior conception of the right that is we might think they re good because they are right rather than that promoting them is right because they are good 2 What factors contribute to the goodness of an



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