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Utilitarianism and Obviousness

Lenman, James (2004) Utilitarianism and Obviousness. Utilitas, 16 (3). pp. 322-325. ISSN 1741-6183

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Abstract

This article seeks to diagnose a serious defect in a highly influential supposed counterexample to utilitarianism: Bernard Williams's case of Jim and the Indians. Discussing this, Williams argues that, according to utilitarianism, it is obviously right to say that Jim should kill an Indian. But as this is not obviously right, Williams takes the example to furnish a forceful counterexample to utilitarianism. I note here that the force of the supposed counterexample is in fact very doubtful as the utilitarian can readily enough explain the non-obviousness of the claim that Jim should kill with reference to the non-obviousness of utilitarianism itself.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2004 Cambridge University Press. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Department of Philosophy (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2006
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2013 15:20
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0953820804001207
Status: Published
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1017/S0953820804001207
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1595

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