What is the relation of technology and specialization of function to morality?
Moral issues are at the heart of human problems and must figure prominently in solutions. It is our bleak paradox that specialized populations possess increasing technological prowess, all too often accomplished by increasing the likelihood of encountering individuals pleading force majeure while diminishing the chances of encountering individuals regarding themselves as 'competent to be culpable'.
(Thoughts from an unpublished essay linking moral issues with Whitehead's Process Metaphysics.)© SolutionLibrary Inc. solutionlibary.com 9836dcf9d7 https://solutionlibrary.com/philosophy/ethics-morals/what-is-the-relation-of-technology-and-specialization-of-function-to-morality-278
...is modest hope has been challenged. The following questions have been raised:
1) Has a credible rule utilitarianism been formulated ... or is there evidence that such is likely?
2) Would any such formulation do the job required? There are problems beyond traditional challenges to rule utilitarianism: i.e., its inability to account for issues of integrity, happiness, or justice.
3) Bernard Williams observes: "Many a potential desire fails to become an express preference because the thought is absent that it would ever be possible to achieve it."
Williams' observation reminds us of an underlying concern - the rightness or wrongness of the notion of ethical autonomy - the exalted status deontologists have 'from first principles' and teleologists seek to achieve. My suspicion is that the claim/goal of an autonomous ethics has been undermining well-being all along the way. The tension between Antecedentialism (George Sher) and John Keke's Character Morality draws out what is at issue.
The utilitarian argument against deontological morality - that it can sanction acts that do not maximize well-being: "Let justice be done though the heavens fall!" - turns partially on the claim that persons act upon one ought at a time, or that they are unable to evaluate conflicting moral conclusions. It is indeed interesting to consider how ambiguous or contradictory duties are resolved. One suspects that the deontics occasionally resort to something like act utilitarianism, just as rule utilitarianists apparently do, to sort out recalcitrant problems. This puzzle deepens when we expand utilitarianism into consequentialism and discover that important moral questions must still be handled in the same old way. Must every ethical model collapse into a more or less odious version of what has been termed the 'pig philosophy'? Bernard Williams does not subscribe to this worry. He feels that it is possible to be a non-consequentialist and still differentiate among situations. Thus...
This is not at all to say that the alternative to consequentialism is that one has to accept that there are some actions which one should always do, or again some which one should never do, whatever the consequences. ...It is perfectly consistent, and it might be thought a mark of sense, to believe, while not being a consequentialist, that there was no type of action which satisfied this "whatever the consequences" mandate.
Nor is Williams advocating unrelenting rationality. We should be able to regard certain prospects as just unthinkable lest, like Herman Kahn, we develop "the unblinking accountant's eye of the strict utilitarian." That is, for a moral agent...
Rationality (is seen) as a demand not merely on him, but on the situation in, and about, which he has to think; unless the environment reveals minimum sanity to carry the decorum of sanity into it. Consequentialist rationality, however, and in particular utilitarian rationality, has no such limitations: making the best of a bad job is one of its maxims, and it will have something to say even on the difference between massacring seven million and massacring seven million and one.
This suggests that, if consequentialism ever assessed its own consequences, there would be no alternative save to abandon the project. The only defensible role left would be to guard Eden against further irruptions.
Just in case this image is not conclusive, a further deficit of utilitarianism is that it segregates actions from values (as B. J. Diggs has pointed out). Ethical behaviour then becomes an instrumentality delivering utilitarian goods. E.J. Bond dismissed this: to have a productive, moral life, we must go beyond conjoining action and intrinsic pleasure.
The happiest people ... are those who value for their own sakes things in some respect other than that they like them or enjoy them, or that they occupy their time agreeably.
For Bond, the counter-productive nature of utilitarianism permeates even the workplace, where rule utilitarianism would seem to be a safe bet, if it is to be a safe bet anywhere. Thus ...
When one is engaged in a job or a project one must aim at doing the job or completing the project, and not at one's pleasure or amusement, which is irrelevant. If one is to be motivated to do the job or complete the project, one must value its end.
There is a further problem: one cannot possess rules until the tasks they were distilled from had been designed by non-instrumentalists, since, on those occasions, no rules had yet been achieved to guide behaviour. Even after a product has been conceived and executed through creative acts operating without rules, the task of designing routines must be managed without rules. Only when all of these singularly human behaviours have been catalogued and the supervenient strategies they suggest have been creatively accomplished, can we compile the 'rule utilitarianism' handbook. At this point it is clear that rule utilitarianism amounts to construing people as means to achieve desired ends. It does not mitigate the destructiveness of this practice if the ends are construed to be those 'the people' would choose.
A way to gain a sense of the harm of regarding people as means is to recognize that no birth event delivered the world as a fait accompli; or that there is any sense in which a person is born all at once. What we have, all that we have, are processes of birthing. In the human instance, individuals begin at conception and continue until death. Birthing often involves and sometimes requires discomfort. Discomfort is something the utilitarian calculus is hard pressed to value. This can this be massaged into something like 'no pain, no gain' fitness programmes - over in an hour and delivering value to the rest of the day. The business of life is deep and full-blooded ... and because there is much subtlety, it is not possible for utilitarianism to be neutral: Whenever a heavy-handed calculus is ...