Assessing Peter Singer's argument for utilitarianism :drawing a lesson from Rousseau and Kant

Journal article


Buckle, Stephen. (2011). Assessing Peter Singer's argument for utilitarianism :drawing a lesson from Rousseau and Kant. The Journal of Value Inquiry. 45(2), pp. 215 - 227. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-011-9279-8
AuthorsBuckle, Stephen
Abstract

In Practical Ethics, Peter Singer argues that utilitarianism is a first step that we must take, if we are to think morally and that moving away from utilitarianism requires justification. This is a strong claim. In effect, it is to claim that utilitarianism is the default setting for moral thinking and that the onus of proof falls on anyone who resists utilitarianism.<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10790-011-9279-8#Fn1&qu... id="x-x-x-x-Fn1_source">1 The argument has a starting-point in self-interest and is flawed for that reason. This flaw is comparable to a problem in the argument Rousseau advances for a social contract. Kant offers a solution to the problem that shows the kind of adjustment needed to improve Singer’s argument. The problem Singer faces stems from an assumption of self-interest typical of evolutionary naturalism, even though when he turns to consider evolutionary theory and its significance, he rejects the assumption.

Keywordssocial contract; ethical justification; practical ethic; negative liberty; psychological egoism
Year2011
JournalThe Journal of Value Inquiry
Journal citation45 (2), pp. 215 - 227
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
ISSN0022-5363
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-011-9279-8
Scopus EID2-s2.0-80052350102
Page range215 - 227
Research GroupSchool of Philosophy
Publisher's version
File Access Level
Controlled
Place of publicationThe Netherlands
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