A Critique of Utilitarianism

Reply Wed 16 Feb, 2011 07:25 pm
In A Critique of Utilitarianism, Bernard Williams focuses his criticism on concerns about a person’s integrity. Williams argues that utilitarianism, as an ethical theory, is fundamentally flawed, because it fails to take account of integrity. According to Williams, what is integrity, and how does the utilitarian calculus constitute an attack on integrity? Finally, how do you think a utilitarian might respond to this objection, and do you think such a response will work? As always; why do you think as you do?
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Reply Wed 16 Feb, 2011 08:09 pm
People and politicians don't just hold one idea or view. They hold an assortment of thoughts and principles. Just as a carpenter hold a bunch of tools in his tool belt people too have philosophies that they use in different situations. They may try integrity first and if that fails they try something else. It is not a case of all or nothing.
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Fil Albuquerque
Reply Wed 16 Feb, 2011 09:43 pm

Say Utilitarian simply means to draw the shortest adequate line towards a set goal which takes in account all the involved variables and consequences...
...it resumes to efficiency even in complex situations ! So what ?
...at this light just were is "Integrity" endangered then ?
I never figure the reason for the name anyway...
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Reply Thu 17 Feb, 2011 03:23 pm
If/when utilitarian calculations spit out a project that compels its various agents to drop their own pursuits and align themselves with it, Williams apparently conceives this as still much a form of ideological oppression as any. Integrity is adhering to one's own position. pursuing one's own projects and convictions --not having one's wholeness impaired by idealized agendas or "impartial POVs".

However, an advocate of a specific doctrine has obviously decided that this is his/her personal pursuit, even if it required subsuming their "what would be otherwise" ambitions to either its static dictums or methodologically variable prescriptions. Thus, William's all-out appreciation of integrity seems to suggest an eventual tumble into either nobody adhering to a formal, overarching scheme (a world of anarchic or chaotic "do-my-own-thing-ism") or that a vast horde of rival alternatives should co-exist with utilitarianism.
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