#ethics21 Week 5

Although the course has fairly much drifted towards the oral, I will briefly write down my thoughts here in my blog.

Screenshot of a calendar, saying Week 5

I have become increasingly aware of how little I know about the heavy complicated philosophical traditions that are tied to almost each of the seemingly simple concepts. So I appreciate Stephen’s comprehensive lessons, and I am happy to invest the many many hours of listening.

There is one thing I still hope to understand: Why is the idea of consequentialism so much despised and attacked by many? Is it that some early capitalist ideologists did somehow ‘hijack’ the idea for justifying egoism?

For me, the earliest encounter with the idea was Max Weber’s contrasting Verantwortungsethik (ethics of responsibility) with Gesinnungsethik (ethics of attitude, see Wikipedia and a previous blog post), and I could not understand what is wrong with the responsibility to consider the consequences of one’s decision.

Later, I was surprised that it is equated with Utilitarianism, but still, what’s wrong with utility? Do I smell some elitism here, of those who don’t need to care about utility because they live in abundance, and are proud to focus on Das Schöne, Wahre, Gute (the beautiful, true, good)? But beauty does have a utility (see e.g. “Aesthetics as Pre-linguitic knowledge” by Alan Whitfield), and truth does save costs in the information economy, and ‘the good’ has many connotations of the useful.

So if there is some elitism, and perhaps some dreaming of a meritocracy, I will be watchful if there are also growing tendencies against democracy — which I see as my duty because it was part of my oath of allegiance, 40 years ago, at the start of my professional career in the public service.

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1 Response to #ethics21 Week 5

  1. x28 says:

    Thanks to Stephen Downes for answering my question in his video at 1:07:49.
    Indeed I do now better understand the historical background, and hence the radical objection reported here.


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