(refutation of disagreement with 2. C.)
Refutation of claiming that the best way to uphold the worthwhile is to maximize what is worthwhile from a single point of view:
- This view is known as utilitarianism
- What is best means the most good, and utilitarianism at least aims for what is most good and the least bad
- However, the worthwhile takes priority over the good, and merely avoiding what is bad, since not all goods are worthwhile for persons (such as bad investments, or feelings of satisfaction at the degradation of others, which feelings tend to infringe on what is worthwhile for others), and not all avoiding of bad is worthwhile (such as visiting the dentist and undergoing a painful but beneficial root canal)
- We cannot reckon what is good and bad from a single standpoint, since nothing is good or bad for any one thing, be it the universe, or the situation, or the total amount of good, or the moral agent. Everyone enjoys what is worthwhile for their own self, and it is not strictly speaking what is worthwhile for anyone else, let alone for the universe as a whole. It is meaningless to judge the worthwhile from a single standpoint.
- When we evaluate whether something is worthwhile, we really need to ask whose "while" it is. That is, everyone has their own personal time that is their while in some sense. People judge what is worthwhile for themselves in the context of their own time of things. A two-year-old would have a boring time of a lecture on advanced mathetmatics that a mathematician might find rewarding. This means we must reckon what is worthwhile from the standpoint of different persons. Indeed, this is the only meaningful way of evaluating what is worthwhile.
- Therefore it follows that what is worthwhile in general is the conjunction of what is worthwhile for all individual persons concerned.
- It may additionally be noted that utilitarianism is typically hedonistic or preference-based, that is, it values as good whatever makes people pleased and bad as whatever displeases (hedonism), or values as good whatever satisfies and bad as whatever frustrates (preference-based). In either case, being pleased or satisfied at the degradation of others makes one tend towards what is bad or destructive, so such values-systems cannot coherently be claimed to conduce towards what is truly best--the most good and the least bad. This consideration proves that utilitarianism is flawed in that it does not take virtue seriously, or the importance of agents acting with good will, and thereby cannot be the best approach to ethics.
- In practice, utilitarianism allows a majority to oppress individuals or minorities. Harm to some to benefit others can be rationalized as being "for the greater good," or as being what is most worthwhile overall, as though there were a single point of view of the worthwhile. For example, harmful experimentation may be justified as yielding enough repeatable benefits, in the form of medical knowledge, to justify harming an unwilling group of experimental subjects. By contrast, a rights view which respects what is worthwhile for individual persons rejects such benefits as unjust, and as unworthwhile in general because it fails to respect the conjunction of what is worthwhile to all persons.
RETURN TO DISAGREEMENTS WITH PREMISE 2.
RETURN TO MAIN ARGUMENT