By Fred Feldman
Several years in the past I came upon a fabulous little paper within which Hector-Neri Castaneda exhibits that normal models of act utilitarian l ism are officially incoherent. i used to be intrigued by way of his argument. It had lengthy looked as if it would me that I had an organization grab on act utilitarianism. certainly, it had frequently appeared to me that it used to be the clearest and most enticing of normative theories. but right here used to be an easy and comparatively uncontrover sial argument that confirmed, with just some trivial assumptions, that the doctrine is almost unintelligible. The gist of Castaneda's argument is that this: believe we comprehend act utilitarianism to be the view that an act is compulsory if and provided that its software exceeds that of every substitute. believe it really is compulsory for a undeniable individual to accomplish an act with components - we will be able to name it 'A & B'. Then, evidently adequate, it's also compulsory for this individual to accomplish the components, A and B. If act utilitarianism have been actual, we appar ently may well infer that the software of A & B is larger than that of A, and better than that of B (because A & B is compulsory, and the opposite acts are possible choices to A & B).
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A second problem is of a rather different nature. I want to layout the formal structure of a normative doctrine that will be acceptable to as wide as possible a range of moral philosophers. While I cannot compromise on the fundamental thesis that we ought to do the best we can, I can compromise on the question of what should count as "best". For present purposes, I am simply not all that interested in defending any specific doctrines about the internal content of axiology. Therefore, I want to leave the details of the axiological component open.
18 CHAPTER 2 So accessibility remains undefined here. Loosely, and informally, we may say that a world is accessible to an agent at a time if and only if he still can see to it that that world occurs, or is actual. An accessible world is one that is still open to the agent. It remains among his live options. 1. Indiscernibility with Respect to the Past If a world, w', is accessible to an agent, s, at a time, t, from a world, w, then w' must be quite like w up to t. Indeed, there is a natural inclination to suppose that wand w' must be exactly alike up to t.
Each of these things seems to have the same intrinsic value as p, and each of them occurs in worlds in which p occurs. Suppose they all occur in w. If this is right, then it is clear that there are indefinitely many intrinsically good states of affairs occurring along with p in w. If the intrinsic value of w is the sum of the intrinsic values of the things occurring there, we will have to say that the value of w is extremely high - much higher than + 10. This is obviously wrong. 5. Basic Intrinsic Value States Some intrinsically good states of affairs seem to have their intrinsic value in a more basic way than others.
Doing the Best We Can: An Essay in Informal Deontic Logic by Fred Feldman