Posted at 06.10.2018
The thought test that Bernard Williams brought up in his work "A Critique of Utilitarianism" to determine that utilitarianism can be an incoherent and unintelligible theory of morality and will not hold much floor, in particular when it comes to decision making under great pressure and in high risk situations. But it crumbles altogether when once integrity and moral compass reaches stake.
This paper will explore some quarrels related to the idea test that Bernard Williams has illustrated highlighting both the situations of George agreeing to and rejecting the work offer and exactly how it impacts his morality. It will also compare the utilitarian view point in the light of this thought test out other moral view tips to establish that all ideas do not accomplish all the conditions of your complete moral theory and does not fulfill our mental health and psychological needs.
Suppose if George allows the job offer. By accepting the offer at the chemical and biological warfare laboratory, George will certainly provide economic prosperity to his family (as he going right through tough time), additionally he'll also once get the job can better influence the work of the laboratory, by either slowing the process and/or building up support at the laboratory to intentionally protract the process. All these actions of George will lead to a greater utility as he'll become a musical instrument in increasing utility and decreasing harm by slowing the process. He will also be able to provide an improved future for his family thereby reducing suffering which could have been induced to him and his family should he not need accepted the job offer. It looks like that from a utilitarian perspective this is a great situation. However, Bernard Williams argues against this position. He says that even though it seems that everyone is profiting from George's decision, for him it isn't a great choice as it'll alienate him from his tasks that define him. In other words, as George is against biological and chemical type weapon, as he must forsake his integrity in order to take a decision to accept the work offer. Bernard Williams call this as one's jobs and argues the particular one should never forsake ones integrity and worth which specify us. George in this case has a deep rooted opinion against biological and chemical weapons (their creation and use) and should not forsake this. He sates:
"It really is absurd to demand of such a man, when the sums come in from the power network that your projects of others have partly motivated, that he should just step apart from his own task and decision and acknowledge your choice which utilitarian computation requires. It is to alienate him in a genuine sense from his activities and the source of his action in his own convictions. It is to make him into a route between the suggestions of everyone's projects, including his own, and an output of optimific decision; but this is to overlook the level to which his actions and his decisions have to be viewed as the actions and decisions which movement from the jobs and behaviour with which he's most closely discovered. It really is thus, in the most literal sense, and attack on his integrity. "
It is wise at this stage to convey a few items about the thought test itself, as a utilitarian could claim against their need. Thought experiments are a sensible way to provide us with a way of producing knowledge by moving out of the domain of the real and daily affairs. They can be seen as a musical instrument of wisdom of probability as well as thought of conceivability. However, they are constrictive in aspect, and arbitrarily take off and restrict the number of options avaiable to decide on a plan of action. This thought experiment, is reflective of all the constraints related to thought tests in general but in particular it ranges us from the consequences so that it is remote to the action that he'll take, in so doing it is difficult to determine from a useful perspective whether the thought experiment is of relevance or not. The author has intentionally given little qualifications concerning how George has landed into this example and so has opened several generalization and universal applicability inhibiting the utilization of creativeness and intuition.
Martin Bunzl provides an interesting viewpoint regarding thought tests related to ethics and especially to consequentialist theories in general,
". . . need a level of details usually without thought experiments. Which is the attempt to provide the absent fine detail (both consequentialist facts and the weightings on those facts) that produces the paradigm of your thought test that is out of control"
This can be an interesting take as the complete idea of providing absent information is to make us visit a different paradigm not visible in the idea test itself.
Now let's see the scenario from a new vintage point. Suppose George will not accept the work offer as he is an ardent believer in safeguarding the world from natural and chemical weapons. In cases like this he has paid attention to his moral words. However, even in cases like this (when George is not taking an action by not recognizing the position) he is responsible for action through the doctrine of negative responsibility. Consequentialism will not acknowledge the difference between George not taking the work offer and safeguarding his integrity similarly but has allowed another person to take up the job (who's for the utilization of biological and chemical weapons) in so doing is equally responsible for the injury that could cause. It doesn't make any difference if the action is taken by George or the other person as he is the one who let it happen.
Looking at the broader picture keeping this thought experiment in perspective, John Rawls provides another point of view.
"The primary principles of ethics are those of right and the nice. The structure associated with an honest theory is, and then is basically dependant on how it identifies and connects these two basic notions. "
From a utilitarian point of view, the right and the good is of no importance to the decision making process. But from an deontological perspective it isn't the badness or the goodness of the outcome that makes it wrong but the act itself is incorrect. George is not permitted to do something and take any decision if it violates the deontological constraint (certain things that we should never do, even if doing it produces overall better repercussions, in this case George may decrease the process of weapon development and/or make a substantial effort is convincing other folks to aid his point of view). If George believes of his become a right action then it must are based on its motive and according to Kant the purpose is usually to be within the action of duty rather than the inclination (George's sense of duty will emerge from his strong belief against production of these weapons).
Even although action George will take will devoid him of pain and can give him pleasure but you won't be considered a free action and you will be at the mercy of the laws of cause and effect. If he will not take the work if he doesn't on the idea that because he respects the moral legislation of more and more people dying he'll be the one who'll eventually be the participant in it. By carrying out a utilitarian viewpoint George has retracted his autonomy to take action, as he's bounded by the effects of exactly what will happen, and his own will be shattered. Thereby he is not being true to himself and is losing true liberty. George may just do it with not receiving the work offer but his modern-day will; thereby you won't be a common principle. George shouldn't take action only because he has a duty towards others, to act and safeguard their interest; home interest is not the reason why he must do the right thing.
One may also consider George's action not to be seen in the future consequences that it will bring, however in the past as well, how he landed in this situation, what exactly are he motives which led to him being up against the development of substance and biological weapons. You can find other considerations that need to be earned than the consequences of the action in identifying what he should do. These considerations other than the worthiness of the consequence of the action that needs to be considered in determining what he must do. A consequentialist will tell George to allow idea go as it'll prevent greater damage or can do greater good. Ross suggests that there is no universal legislation in this. For him one value can be overriding by another value provided it relives the stress. George action of taking on the work will be an unethical kind of expediency and can put undue pressure on George to take up the responsibility of morality for the whole real human kind on his shoulder blades.
Alternatively, George can see the whole issue from an alternative perspective entirely. He should not see the entire situation as being what's right or wrong but should give attention to what's just, humane and ample. By doing this, he'll not only see the moral dilemma as a concentrate but can see his life as whole and his position in it. It can help him in acquiring some sort of a virtue and will take the strain of the moral burden of obligation towards the whole mankind that he is trying to guard.
On the other hand this approach to decision making could be more introvert with the concentrate on fulfilling the needs of the "I" rather than the combined good of all. Furthermore, it abandons the moral common principles and gives power to the average person (in this case George) to make his own judgement. It dodges quite moral issues without supposing a particular position.
Looking at this thought experiment and its conclusion, we reach a point where our approach to morality must be somewhere within this completely impartial and integrity-sacrificing mode and the danger of a completely subjective/relativist mode. The whole argument above obviously areas that thought tests can provide us with a way of considering on issues but are limited in scope and should be utilized with caution.
"Thought tests are profitably compared to compasses. A compass is a straightforward but useful device for deciding route. Nevertheless, it systematically errs in the existence of magnets. . . it becomes unreliable near the North Pole, in mine shafts, when vibrated, in the occurrence of material. . . experts will wish to use the compass as one component in a wider portfolio of navigational techniques. Analogously, thought experiments are simple but useful devices for deciding the status of propositions. Regrettably, they systematically err under certain conditions and are also best used with sensitivity with their foibles and limited scope"