Last time, in our discussion of consequentialism, we discussed Williams' examples of George the chemist and
Jim and the Indians. In each of these examples, Williams thinks that we should find the view of the
Consequentialist implausible; and in each of these cases, it seems that what makes trouble for the
Consequentialist is the fact that we are inclined to find the distinction between doing something and letting it
happen morally relevant --- which is what the Strong Doctrine of Negative Responsibility denies.
At least two other worrying sorts of cases for consequentialism are worth considering:
? Cases which involve our intuitions about the rights of others. The example of the unwilling transplant.
? Cases in which, if Consequentialism is true, we seem to have a moral obligation to deceive ourselves
about what we ought to do.
Consequentialism is one very general framework about how to think about what we ought to do. As the above
makes clear, there are many different versions of Consequentialism.
But, as the above also makes clear, whether or not Consequentialism is true has very concrete consequences:
for example, it seems to have the Strong Singer Principle as a consequence, and that Principle seems to have
as a consequence that you are morally obliged to give almost all of your money to help suffering people around
As we have seen, Consequentialism also faces some serious problems. One might wonder: if Consequentialism
is false, what does that entail for Singer's argument? To answer this question, we need to understand how one
might think about what we ought to do in a non-consequentialist way. We turn to that topic now.
Is it morally acceptable to lie according to Kant?Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) proposed that there are no conceivable circumstances in which lying is morally acceptable. He argued that morality is rooted in our capacity to make free, rational choices and that lying is, in effect, an assault on morality because it aims to undermine this capacity.
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