The epistemic and informational requirements of utilitarianism

Utilitas 21 (1):72-99 (2009)
Abstract
A recurring objection confronting utilitarianism is that its dictates require information that lies beyond the bounds of human epistemic wherewithal. Utilitarians require reliable knowledge of the social consequences of various policies, and of people’s preferences and utilities. Agreeing partway with the sceptics, I concur that the general rules-of-thumb offered by social science do not provide sufficient justification for the utilitarian legislator to rationally recommend a particular political regime, such as liberalism. Actual data about human preference-structures and utilities is required to bridge this evidentiary gap. I offer two arguments to support the availability of such information. First, I contend that ordinary human beings have a clear method of epistemic access to reliable information about commensurable preference-structures. Second, in an attempt to shift the onus of philosophic argument, I show that the utilitarian legislator’s requirements do not differ in kind from those implicitly called upon by the sceptical deontic liberal.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 12,084
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Leonard Kahn (2012). Rule Consequentialism and Scope. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):631-646.
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-02-05

Total downloads

37 ( #50,267 of 1,101,864 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

7 ( #41,658 of 1,101,864 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.