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Consequentialism and Moral Rightness

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Natalie Ashton

on 25 October 2013

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Transcript of Consequentialism and Moral Rightness

Consequentialism and Moral Rightness
Natalie Ashton
n.a.ashton@sms.ed.ac.uk

Overview
Monday:

Today:
What is Consequentialism?


Consequentialism and Friendship

Moral Rightness
Constructing Counter-examples
3 Cases
Hare on Slavery (and what to take from this)
Friday:
Bite the Bullet
Deny the Results
It is exposed to facts
A Dr who refused available organs to two dying patients would be killing them.
...what if the only available organs are within another, healthy person?
Maximises the number of healthy individuals
Everyone is more secure
Do you think something
morally wrong is going on here?
The Survival Lottery
Harris (mostly) bites the bullet...
TSL fails to respect individuals!
...yes, but so does letting the patients die.
TSL involves bad intentions
...nope, only good intentions.
TSL involves actively killing!
...yes, but refusing to treat the patients is killing too.
Singer denies the consequences
The level of utility wouldn't be as high as Harris predicts.
Removing consequences takes away our reason to be prudent
(mostly)
...and a bad one doesn't decrease your chances
A good diet doesn't increase your chances of survival...
Violations of Rights
1) Pick a basic human right.
2) Imagine a situation where violating it would result in greater net utility than not.
A worker becomes trapped under equipment, and is suffering painful electric shocks.
The excitement and enjoyment of billions is preserved
But the rights of an individual are sacrificed
Do you think something
morally wrong is going on here?
The Accident at the TV Station
It's the penalty shoot out of the world cup final...
This promotes the most utility.
The world is as good as it can be
Do you think something
morally wrong is going on here?
The Utility Monster
Utility monster:
Someone who gains much more from the sacrifices of others than those others lose.

Utilitarianism says that we all have to sacrifice everything we have!
Deny the consequences?
Try filling out the details of the case...
If we do this realistically, we see that slavery doesn't promote greater net utility than abolition.
Utilitarianism would NOT recommend slavery.
Hare: Slavery
Or the alternative?
We can fill out the details unrealistically...
...and this gets the result the anti-consequentialist predicts.
Now our intuitions are inadequate
The force of the objection is lost
The happiness a few people lose when enslaved

vs.

The happiness the whole population enjoy as a result
Why do people still
hold Consequentialism?

It can show what is wrong with rights violations
Full transcript