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Lecture

PHL275H1 Lecture Notes - Ethical Intuitionism, Kantian Ethics, Deontological Ethics


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHL275H1
Professor
Joseph Boyle

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Criticisms of Utilitarianism
1. It is inconsistent with common moral intuitions about fairness and distributive justice,
about the extent of personal responsibility and about the legitimacy of an agent’s personal
projects and commitments
Williams’ official concern is with 1) the doctrine of negative responsibility and 2)
the implications of utilitarianism for a person’s own integrity in carrying out
projects and commitments
utilitarianism destroys the integrity of life
you have to sacrifice own interests and commitments
negative responsibility is the idea that one s as responsible for what one refues to
do as for what one does 354 mid paragraph
this follows from the consequentialist concern for states of affairs
what counts ethically is what happens not who does it or why they do it
this contrasts with the virtue ethic focus on choosing well and on Kant’s idea that
the good will is the point of ethics
2. Oversimplifies Moral Thought and distorts moral thought and practice
Taylor’s objection to utilitarianism and formalism is an objection to this
oversimplification of moral life
Ross: provides an appeal to common moral experience to back up his view that
moral obligation does not have a single source but a plurality of irreducible
sources
he thinks that the reasons we have about what we would do—you don’t need to be
a utilitarian to say that
duty of benevolence (utilitarianism) is one of a set of duties
when we make promises we do so with no thought to its total consequences
the basis of moral life is human relationships, ethical intuitionism
criticizes the utilitarian, consequentialist and Kantian
morality doesn’t arise to describe the good
we just have relationships that are structured deontologically (with several duties)
pluralistic moral theory
prima facie duties, features of actions that make them morally good or bad, but do
not always indicate that a given action is morally correct to do or to avoid
when an action is governed by several prima facie duties, we must guess about
what we should do that is the right thing to do
Aristotle’s wise man is on the scene (practically wise who knows what exactly to
do at the very moment that it is required to decide, phronesis)
3. Utilitarianism falsely supposes the comparability of values
emerges in the disagreement between Mill and Bentham about whether all
pleasures are qualitatively on the same scale (Mill says no)
if not, then comparing them is not based simply on discerning the given features
of the pleasures, features that are readily compared
utilitarianism presupposes that we have a way of figuring out what’s the greatest
good
incommensurability of goods explains some of the concerns about integrity and
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