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Proč nejsem utilitaristou? Vyznání přirozenoprávníka

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Title in English Why I Am Not a Utilitarian: Confessions of a Natural Lawyer


Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Právník
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web článek - open access
Keywords consequentialism; human rights; natural law theory; morality; utilitarianism; utility
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Description Although the quality of Martin Hapla’s monograph Utilitarianism and the Philosophy of Human Rights is really extraordinary by Czech standards, his version of pragmatic utilitarianism presents some fundamental difficulties. These stem from the consequentialist or utilitarian framework of his argumentation. In this paper, I will discuss some of these difficulties, from the perspective of the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. The objections will thus not be directed primarily at the conclusions, which utilitarianism tends to lead to in particular cases, but mainly at its intuitively accepted assumptions, especially its understanding of (the maximization of) utility. In the first part of the text, I start my exposition with an understanding of utilitarianism as a specific tradition of moral inquiry. In this, I draw inspiration from the work of moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. The utilitarian tradition absolutizes fragments from a more compact whole, which is better captured by the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition associated with the natural law theory. This rival tradition is also closer to our ordinary moral experience and can capture it in more precise terms. I bolster these conclusions in the second part of the text by thematizing the critique of consequentialism by the famous British philosopher G.E.M Anscombe. Expounding on her ideas, I argue that utilitarianism should be abandoned because it entails a peculiar and oversimplistic characterization of the immorality of human acts. I conclude the paper by arguing that Hapla’s pragmatic utilitarianism is far more revisionist and revolutionary than it first appears.
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