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Mill and the Utilitarian Tradition Philosophy 2B - Ray Critch Lecture 6 - Problems of Authenticity and Moral Psychology PowerPoint Presentation
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Mill and the Utilitarian Tradition Philosophy 2B - Ray Critch Lecture 6 - Problems of Authenticity and Moral Psychology. In this lecture (Why) Do I Save My Wife? Expensive Tastes and Adaptive Preferences Utility Monsters Utility Machines. Two Types of Problems.

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Mill and the Utilitarian Tradition Philosophy 2B - Ray Critch Lecture 6 - Problems of Authenticity and Moral Psychology


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Mill and the Utilitarian TraditionPhilosophy 2B - Ray CritchLecture 6 - Problems of Authenticity and Moral Psychology

In this lecture

(Why) Do I Save My Wife?

Expensive Tastes and Adaptive Preferences

Utility Monsters

Utility Machines

two types of problems
Two Types of Problems
  • Type 1: Is morality really like that?
  • Type 2: Are people really like that
    • Both highly intuitive
    • Both very difficult to get ‘right’
    • Both deal with moral psychology
    • Both deal with authenticity
    • Difference lies in whether the problem lies in the theory or in its applicability.
why do i save my wife
(Why) Do I Save My Wife?
  • Bernard Williams’ ‘One Reason Too Many,’ scenario.
    • Two people are about to die, one of whom is your husband. You can only save one. There is no ‘objective’ reason to choose.
    • Everyone saves their spouse, the question is why?
    • Williams’ claim is that ‘any answer other than simply ‘he’s my husband’ is one reason too many.
why do i save my wife1
(Why) Do I Save My Wife?
  • Williams’ Scenario and Utilitarianism
    • Precludes Utilitarian distinctions between the parties in the set-up.
      • As such, any utilitarian distinction would have to be due to the relationship between the parties.
    • Using utilitarianism to give moral value to the relationship between the parties is ‘one reason too many.’
      • Explanation 1: Morally Dubious
      • Explanation 2: Phenomenologically Dubious
expensive tastes and adaptive preferences
Expensive Tastes and Adaptive Preferences
    • Expensive Tastes are often the result of Adaptive Preferences
    • An Argument against Preference Utility
  • Dworkin on Expensive Tastes
    • The Tennis Pro and the Farmer
      • If what matters is satisfaction of preferences, satisfying one set of preferences might cost a society more than satisfying another preference.
      • If hedonism - same problem arises.
expensive tastes and adaptive preferences1
Expensive Tastes and Adaptive Preferences
  • Expensive Tastes
    • Two types of problems for Utilitarianism
      • 1) Seems to undermine equality in one way by preserving it in another.
      • 2) May, in cases of limited resources, force a choice between greater happiness or greater numbers.
expensive tastes and adaptive preferences2
Expensive Tastes and Adaptive Preferences
  • Adaptive Preferences
    • Actual v. Ideal Preferences - what circumstances count in determining ideal?
    • The Happy Housewife

‘I met a woman, became a wife,

These are the very words she uses to describe her life;

A good day ain’t got no rain,

A bad day’s when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been’

Paul Simon - Slip Sliding Away

expensive tastes and adaptive preferences3
Expensive Tastes and Adaptive Preferences
  • Adaptive Preferences
    • The Evolutionary Account
      • Happy People do better over the long term
      • Not everyone can live in happiness-conducive circumstances
    • Actual Preferences - bite the bullet
    • Ideal Preferences - Ideal under what circumstances?
utility monsters
Utility Monsters
  • A Note on Thought Experiments
    • Caution: Use only to isolate one variable.
    • Intuitions have their limits.
  • Nozick’s Utility Monster
        • A Utility Monster is someone who, whatever resources he/she is given, will get significantly more pleasure (10x, 1,000x…) than anyone else.
      • Hedonistic Utilitarianism demands that we give the monster everything.
      • A similar story works for Preference Utilitarianism.
utility machines
Utility Machines
  • Nozick Again
    • The Utility Machine and The Matrix
      • The Utility Machine provides the experiences of a happy / preference-fulfilled life, but you don’t actually undergo the experiences.
      • Problem for Experiential Approach - on what basis does it matter that the experience is genuine?
      • Problem for Preference Approach - on what basis must the preferences actually be fulfilled?