A critique of Bernard Williams' recent challenge to utilitarianism

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dc.contributor.advisor Beis, Richard Hardy, 1928-
dc.creator Léger, James Patrick, 1949-
dc.date.accessioned 2011-05-09T12:31:17Z
dc.date.available 2011-05-09T12:31:17Z
dc.date.issued 1980
dc.identifier.other B843 L4
dc.identifier.uri http://library2.smu.ca/xmlui/handle/01/22026
dc.description 61 leaves ; 28 cm.
dc.description Bibliography: leaves 58-61.
dc.description
dc.description.abstract
dc.description.abstract This dissertation examines B. A. O. Williams' recent attack on utilitarianism. It begins by making it clear just what sort of ethical theory utilitarianism is. Dis­tinguishing between descriptive, normative, and meta-ethical theories, it identifies utilitarianism as a normative ethical theory. Distinguishing teleological from deontological normative ethical theories, it locates utilitarianism in the' teleological category. It then proceeds to define utilita­rianism accordingly. In so doing, it provides a clear contemporary formulation of the utility principle and considers some traditional and modern defenses of utilita­rianism which have a direct bearing on Williams' attack.. With the aid of the preceding clarifications and defenses it then goes on to examine, and in every case find wanting, Williams' objections to utilitarianism. Williams places these objections under the following five headings ; consequentialism, utilitarianism, negative responsibility, irrational feelings, and integrity. The examination also reveals numerous inadequacies in Williams"' own position. Among the more specific issues included in the examination are the following: Williams' modified denial of consequentialism, his claim that it makes no difference for consequentialists who produces a state of affairs, the way in which his odd definition of "utilitarianism" leads to much more than a verbal dispute, a contradiction in his conception of the part happiness plays, in utilitarianism, his.claim that an agent is specially responsible for what he does rather than for what other people do, and.his belief that it is misleading to think that one person's refusal to do something makes another person do something. Finally, it is shown that Williams begs the question both in regard to the part which he maintains that "irrational feelings ought to play in utility calculations and in regard to his position that utility requirements ought never to violate what he calls a person's "integrity".
dc.language.iso en
dc.publisher Halifax, N.S. : Saint Mary's University
dc.subject.lcc B843
dc.subject.lcsh Williams, Bernard Arthur Owen
dc.subject.lcsh Utilitarianism
dc.title A critique of Bernard Williams' recent challenge to utilitarianism
dc.type Text
thesis.degree.name Master of Arts in Philosophy
thesis.degree.level Masters
thesis.degree.discipline Philosophy
thesis.degree.grantor Saint Mary's University (Halifax, N.S.)


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