Contemporary Utilitarianism - Page 1 of 4 Ch. 6:...

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Page 1 of 4 Ch. 6: Contemporary Utilitarianism 1. Theoretical Objections to Utilitarianism Theoretical objections of Ut. Have to do with the main theoretical aim of moral theory—the aim of providing a theoretical account of the nature of right and wrong and thereby providing a moral criterion of right action. A very common method of criticizing Ut. Involves thinking up cases in which the theory is dramatically at odds with ordinary moral thinking about the issue at hand. Since the Ut. Theory conflicts with our considered moral beliefs in a wide range of cases, it fails to be a correct moral criterion. Here are four cases of the sort often featured in this kind of objection: Punishment : The chief has a moral obligation to proceed with framing and punishing the innocent person, but this would clearly be morally wrong to punish someone known to be innocent of the crimes in question. Medical Sacrifice : The doctor is morally obligated to kill the healthy man to save five patients that need organs. Distributive Justice : Since the Ut. Theory is only concerned with total aggregate utility, it clearly favors putting some at a disadvantage to favor others, ignoring considerations of equal distribution of benefits and burdens across the members of society. In doing so, the theory runs afoul of our sense of fairness. o Can use this same mode of reasoning to justify slavery. Promising : Consider the case of the rich heiress and your poor self. Is it okay to break a deathbed promise and keep the money even if it won’t harm the girl? 2. Further Objections Ut. Is criticized as being excessively demanding. Morality is demanding because moral constraints are often at odds with what we want to do, so it is not unusual for moral theories to impose unwelcome demands. The complaint, however, is that Ut. is not demanding, but overdemanding . The Overdemandingness Objection Remember that Ut. is universalist and impartialist . Many actions that strike us as morally optional are forbidden according to Ut. According to its standard of right conduct, we are often doing something morally wrong in pursuing our own personal projects and interests. o Ex. enjoying oneself at a baseball game is morally wrong since one could be out volunteering for the city. The Supererogation Objection Supererogatory actions are actions that are beyond the call of duty and not one’s duty so they are not obligatory. Since they are above the call of duty, agents who perform such actions deserve moral praise. Since they are neither obligatory nor forbidden, they are optional actions. Ex. man who dove into lake to save people from a crashed plane. Not every supererogatory action has the highest utility. Ex. what if the man accidentally lost his own life.
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Contemporary Utilitarianism - Page 1 of 4 Ch. 6:...

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