David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Noûs 25 (3):295-321 (1991)
I shall address a familiar, yet persistent, problem confronted by welfare-based moral theories. Welfare is often based on suspect attitudes. Many people's pleasure, happiness, or preference satisfaction, for example, are based on racist, sexist, envious, meddlesome, or mali¬cious attitudes. Is welfare derived from such sources relevant to the deter¬mination of what is morally permis¬sible? Almost everyone has at least some "suspect" attitudes, so to ignore welfare based on suspect attitudes is to ignore things that people actually care about. To take such welfare at face value, however, seems to give it too much of a role in determining what is permis¬sible. The welfare that a sadist gains from torturing others, it seems, does not have the same status as the welfare that victims lose. This problem has already been discussed by a number of authors. Typically, however, authors take one of two extreme positions: they hold that all welfare should be taken at face value, or they hold that "suspect" welfare should be completely ignored. My contribution here is the following: First, I introduce the notion of unauthor¬ized (suspect) welfare, of which welfare from meddlesome preferences, offensive tastes, expensive tastes, etc. are special cases. Second, I formu¬late four condi¬tions of adequacy, applicable to any welfare-based theory, for dealing with unauthor¬ized welfare. These conditions require that unauthorized welfare be "discount¬ed" (play a restricted role) but not be completely ignored. Thus, I shall be explor¬ing a position inter¬mediate between taking "unauthor¬ized" welfare at face value and simply ignoring it. Moreover, the four conditions jointly determine exactly how existing welfare-based theories need to be revised so as to be appropriately sensitive to unauthorized welfare. The problem of suspect welfare is best known for the problems it raises for utilitarianism, but the problem arises for all welfare-based theories. Welfare is here understood as subjective well-being. Pleasure, happiness, and preference satis¬faction are each conceptions of welfare, but liberty, health, wealth, and skills are not. Welfare-based moral theories base permis¬sibility at least partly on the extent to which welfare is pro¬moted. Utilita¬rianism is the most well-known example of a welfare-based theory. Welfare egalitarianism (which requires that welfare be distri¬buted as equally as possible), and maximin wel¬farism (which requires that the minimum welfare be maximized) are two other examples. The paper, it should be emphasized, is very exploratory. My goal is to stake out some unexplored terrain, and boldly to erect a theoretical foundation. That foundation will no doubt will be weak at a number of points -- and perhaps even completely unstable. But I hope that it will at least provide the basis for future construction.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
Peter Vallentyne (1993). The Connection Between Prudential and Moral Goodness. Journal of Social Philosophy 24 (2):105-128.
Similar books and articles
Norman P. Barry (1990). The Philosophy of the Welfare State. Critical Review 4 (4):545-568.
James W. Yeates (2010). Death is a Welfare Issue. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23 (3):229-241.
Katherine Eddy (2006). Welfare Rights and Conflicts of Rights. Res Publica 12 (4):337-356.
Kirsten Schmidt (2011). Concepts of Animal Welfare in Relation to Positions in Animal Ethics. Acta Biotheoretica 59 (2):153-171.
L. W. Sumner (1996). Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics. Oxford University Press.
David J. Mellor (2009). The Sciences of Animal Welfare. Wiley-Blackwell.
Lennart Nordenfelt (2011). Health and Welfare in Animals and Humans. Acta Biotheoretica 59 (2):139-152.
Chris Heathwood (2011). Desire-Based Theories of Reasons, Pleasure, and Welfare. Oxford Studies in Metaethics 6:79-106.
Peter Vallentyne (1991). The Problem of Unauthorized Welfare. Noûs 25 (3):295-321.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads8 ( #198,837 of 1,692,490 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #184,284 of 1,692,490 )
How can I increase my downloads?