By Mark P Jenkins
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Instead, in misvaluing them it threatens them, and in threatening them, utilitarianism breeds alienation: It is absurd to demand from such a man, when the sums come in from the utilitarian network which the projects of others have in part determined, that he should just step away from his own project and decision and acknowledge the decision which utilitarian calculation requires. It is to alienate him in a real sense from his actions and the source of his action in his own convictions. It is to make him into a channel between the input of everyone’s projects, including his own, and an output of optimific decision; but this is to neglect the extent to which his actions and his decisions have to be seen as the actions and decisions which flow from the projects and attitudes with which he is most closely identified.
In denigrating feelings and attributing false motives, Williams finds further proof “that utilitarianism cannot hope to make sense, at any serious level, of integrity” (Williams 1973a: 82). ”), Williams points out that “the distinction between other-concern and self-concern is in no way the same thing as the distinction between utilitarian and non-utilitarian” (Williams 1981k: 49). In the end, utilitarian motives are just as susceptible to corruption by excessive reflexivity and self-concern as any other form of ethical deliberation, although in such cases the issue of integrity will rarely if ever arise, having been rendered more or less unintelligible, in Williams’s view, by utilitarianism itself.
But would Jim, then, displaying integrity by refusing the captain’s invitation, lest his actions violate his conviction that killing an innocent person is always murder regardless of circumstances, fairly invite the charge of self-indulgence? Would George, assuming he sticks to his (quite metaphorical) guns and displays integrity by turning down the weapons job, merit the charge of self-indulgence? Not unless integrity figures as a motive in their deliberations, something Williams, interestingly, finds conceptually impossible.
Bernard Williams by Mark P Jenkins