Meta ethical vs. normative theories
Defense of a form of utilitarianism, called rule utilitarianism. Many
philosophers we’ve studied have gone over utilitarianism. He begins
discussing whether utilitarianism is a normative thesis-gives you whats right
and wrong, and how to determine this. Or if it is an metaethical theory-p.640
mostly concerned with meaning and justification. Actually logical terms. For
example, moores paper is purely metaethics, not discussing whats right or
wrong but defining the term good. Meta ethics takes a step up and looks
down on normative ethics and question them, what makes them work, bla
bla bla. Mill and benthem both ask how to justify the principle of utility
which would be a meta-ethical thesis.
Brandt is concerned with giving a form of utilitarianism—rule utilitarianism.
You can divide utilitarianism into act and rule depending on what it is your
evaluating. Utilitarianism evaluates consequences.
Actions-you can lie or tell the truth. You are debating these two actions.
What would happen to person a, b, c, if I lie? Or if I don’t? what would happen
to their happiness. ACT UTILITARIANISM--choosing the action that
maximizes the happiness. take each action and analyze it individually. You
can take information you’ve learned based on a similar action instead of
having to reevaluate completely.
But a rule utilitarianism would be lies in general make you do one thing or
another. The rule is associated with lying, rather than an action being your
evaluation. You default on your rule. Should you save someone? Yes,
because that’s your rule. But if they are evil, than maybe you wont want to
save them and they might contradict. There are cases when rules contradict.
Brandt is advocating a form of rule utilitarianism. He claims on p. 642 that
there are consequences of act utilitarianism (p.652). people generally
ignoring a rule, should you adhere to the rule or go along with what everyone
else is doing. An act utilitarianism would say you shouldn’t go along with it.
A rule utilitarianism would say go along with the rule because it is the
Brandt wants to defend an ideal form of rule utilitiarianism. What is the best
possible rules to guide us in our society? He presents this theory in section 7.
He calls his theory the ideal code theory. P. 644 bottom of second column.
An action is right if and only if it would not be prohibited by the moral code
ideal for the society.—a code would be a set of rules, a code would be ideal if
it were current in our society