UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Objectivist compatibilist utilitarianism Sleigh, Nicholas Campbell


In this thesis a version of the ethical theory of utilitarianism is defended. The version defended is called ‘objectivist compatibilist utilitarianism’, or ‘OCtJ’. On this version, utilitarian metaethics includes the propositions that there is an objective, intrinsic property of goodness entifying, motivating, and grounding ethics, and that act and rule utilitarianism are compatible since under plausible interpretations both true. While this metaethical theory has perhaps not been stated explicitly before, theories in this vein have been popular since the mid—l9th century, and have been expounded by philosophers such as J.S. Mill and G.E. Moore. OCU will be defended by examination of six influential objections to various of its hypotheses. In each case, thorough conceptual analysis, aided by consultation of relevant scientific facts about human nature, will reveal that the objection is seriously flawed. In the process of dispatching these negative considerations, a comprehensive positive ethical theory will emerge. Most other currently popular ethical theories are not comprehensive, but instead take no position (or several, which amounts to the same thing) on one or more of the major issues that any comprehensive ethical theory must deal with. OCU thus emerges as one of only a very few contemporary comprehensive ethical theories — and on balance the most plausible of the lot.

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