Twenty Questions

July 6, 2017
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HISTORY AND OTHERS

Compared to most other moral theories, utilitarianism is a fairly simple view that doesn’t rely on any particularly complex or elaborate argument. Yet despite being around for a couple of centuries, utilitarianism is only endorsed by a tiny minority, and even this minority arguably fails to fully live up to what utilitarianism requires. At the same time, utilitarianism is rejected by many highly intelligent and sophisticated people who appear to have carefully reflected on its core claims and the arguments in its favour, including various attempts to debunk or discount opposing intuitions. Do these points affect how confident you are about your commitment to utilitarianism? Do you think you will be happy if your version of utilitarianism persuades everyone and no one is left to defend an alternative ethical theory, say in 100 years? Or does the prospect somehow frighten you?

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Image: By Joel Travis Sage – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6524694

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Journal of Practical Ethics

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