The hoary philosophical tradition of hedonism – the view that pleasure is the basic ethical or normative value – suggests that it is at least reasonably and roughly intuitive. But philosophers no longer treat hedonism that way. For the most part, they think that they know it to be obviously false on intuitive grounds, much more obviously false on such grounds than familiar competitors. I argue that this consensus is wrong. I defend the intuitive cogency of hedonism relative to the (...) dominant desire-based and objectivist conceptions of well-being and the good. I argue that hedonism is still a contender, and indeed that our current understanding of commonsense intuition on balance supports it. (shrink)
In Goodness and Justice, Joseph Mendola develops a unified moral theory that defends the hedonism of classical utilitarianism while evading utilitarianism's familiar difficulties by two modifications. His theory incorporates a new form of consequentialism. When, as is common, someone is engaged in conflicting group acts, it requires that one perform the role in that group that is most beneficent. The theory holds that overall value is distribution-sensitive, ceding maximum weight to the well-being of the worst-off sections of sentient lives. It (...) is properly congruent with commonsense intuition and required by the true metaphysics of value, by the unconstituted natural good found in our world. (shrink)
Its relentless pursuit of the good provides act-consequentialism with one sort of intuitive ethical rationale. But more indirect forms of consequentialism promise more intuitive normative implications, for instance the evil of even beneficent murders. I favor a middle way which combines the intuitive rationale of act-consequentialism and the intuitive normative implications of the best indirect forms. Multiple-Act Consequentialism or ‘MAC’ requires direct consequentialist evaluation of the options of group agents. It holds that one should only defect from a group act (...) with good consequences if one can achieve better consequences by the defecting act alone than the entire group act achieves, and that when different beneficent group acts of which one is part specify roles which conflict, one should follow the role in the group act with better consequences. This paper develops MAC as a solution to the Trolley Problem. Section 1 concerns the relative advantages of direct and indirect consequentialisms. Section 2 develops MAC by a focus on competing conceptions of group agency. Section 3 applies MAC to the Trolley Problem. (shrink)
Prudence--the maximization of one’s own welfare irrespective of temporal propinquity--seems to many obviously rational. Special, controversial, and often difficult argument seems necessary to show that an equivalent concern with the welfare of others is rational. But Henry Sidgwick asked an important question about this distribution of the burden of proof.
Accounts of mental content rooted in asymmetric dependence hold, crudely speaking, that the content of a mental representation is the cause of that representation on which all its other causes depend.1 To speak somewhat less crudely, such accounts, hereafter.
Recent arguments for normative realism have centered on attempts to meet a demand on normative facts articulated by harman, That they be required for explanations of uncontroversial phenomena. This paper argues that another argument for normative realism should take precedence, An argument suggested by williams's skeptical discussion of moral objectivity in "ethics and the limits of philosophy".