Saturday, June 6, 2015

Particularistic Utilitarianism Demystified

My post on the infighting within contrastive utilitarian theories was an attempt to salvage a principled or generalized handle on heterodox conceptions of utilitarianism, siding decisively with Average, Negative and Preference antidotes to Total, Positive and Classical orthodoxies. The result was a spirited endorsement of one system; Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism. This would be fine were it not propped up under the guise of Moral Principlism. Given subsequent forays into Moral Particularism, I averred –– albeit latently –– that any isolated system of ethics cannot be reconciled with Principlism in good conscience, as the machinery of Principlism is itself worrisome. This naturally extends to NAPU’s compliance to Principlism, meaning aspects of that (otherwise dandy) entry could benefit from modification. As usual, I'd rather just do a new post and not addend old ones.
Indicators of tension between NAPU and Principlism/Generalism arise in that very write-up though, per my encouraging swift, unapologetic abandonments of NAPU in favor of Classical Negative Average Utilitarianism whenever the moral patient is a non-human animal. If NAPU is abandonable on this score, it follows that CNAU would be as well for the obverse reason. This blog's oft-discussed compartmentalization of human vs. non-human moral patients animated a garish undercurrent of particularism in refusing to hold the Preference side hostage to normative invariability. Having grown fonder of variability in the months that followed, I was pleased to see glimmers of it in the post now under refinement. Problem is, the post dealt with the three keystones of internal disputation enclosed by utilitarian ethics, with particularism open-for-business in just one of those (Preference vs. Classical). This makes it easy for readers to gather that Negative and Average utilitarianisms are unfailingly wiser than Positive and Total utilitarianisms. They aren't. What I should have argued is that they are wiser arguably more often, not in principle, as I intend to show.