Utilitarianism Research Paper

Topics: Utilitarianism, Morality, Necessary and sufficient condition Pages: 5 (1235 words) Published: October 24, 2016


ID Number: 160026059

Tutorial Name and Code: Moral and Political Controversies PY1011

Tutor Name: Ravi Thakral

Essay Question: Outline one common objection to utilitarianism. Do utilitarians have an adequate reply to that objection?

Essay Title: An Adequate, Utilitarian Response to the Utility Monster

I hereby declare that the attached piece of written work is my own work and that I have not reproduced, without acknowledgment, the work of another.












In this paper, I will refute the utility monster objection to utilitarianism by showing that it trades on questionable presuppositions about moral expertise. To make this point, my argument will hinge on a complete understanding of what it means to become an expert in general....

This moral insouciance lends to utilitarianism’s most formidable challenge: the utility monster. Under a utilitarian worldview, someone who garners fantastic amounts of utility from, say, torturing children would be acting morally insofar as his pleasures outweigh his victim’s pain. After all, utilitarianism asserts that an action’s moral worth can be determined by analyzing its consequences, and calculating whether net utility increased or decreased. If it net utility increased, as in the case of the utility monster, then it appears as if utilitarians are obliged to regard the utility monster’s actions as moral. As philosopher Robert Nozick, creator of the utility monster, said: “Utilitarian theory is embarrassed by the possibility of utility monsters who get enormously greater sums of utility from any sacrifice of others than these others lose ... the theory seems to require that we all be sacrificed in the monster's maw, in order to increase total utility.” Although this argument appears convincing at first, further examination reveals that this appearance is, at best,...

Specifically, the utility monster presupposes that moral expertise can be achieved irrespective of what one values. However, one can question the veracity of this assertion. Take, for instance, the case of science. Science is predicated upon values such as the respect for evidence, peer review, and so on. Now, if one is openly violating these principles, while flying under the banner of science, then we reserve the right to label said person as unscientific. Someone whose sole aim in life is to square biochemistry with, say, The Book of Mormon can claim that their endeavors embody what science ought to accomplish, but his claim that this is the case does not, in fact, make it so. Genuine scientists dedicated to studying evidence for its own sake are entirely entitled to remind everyone of the partition between their a posteriori heuristic and the a priori one of their counterparts. While said Mormon-biochemist might regard himself as a proper scientist, dedicated to the study of empirical evidence, other in the scientific community are free to say not only that he is mistaken, but that he is misusing the word “science.” What this example demonstrates is how people who don't share the values of science, cannot engage in science. What's more is how this fundamental presupposition of science, about what we should value, cannot, by definition, render science as unscientific for,...
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