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Introduction to Philosophy



Abstract

The key purpose of the paper is to study and analyze the philosophical thought of Bernard Williams concerning the issue of utilitarianism and integrity and evaluate the claim that the key disadvantage of utilitarianism lies in the fact that it fails to regard personal integrity in the way. Bernard Williams is known for his moral theory that represents his thought on the notion of philosophy. According to the theory, Williams underlines two basic schools of moral thought, Kantianism and Utilitarianism. Both of these schools are defined as the ones that cover the issue of morality that Williams sees as malformation for the following area of the ethical thought that is much more broad and complex.

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Concerning the issue of morality, the philosopher finally comes to a conclusion that any type of systematization is not desirable and therefore does not have to take place and be considered as legitimate within the area of moral theory. The whole amount of theoretical approaches and ideas represented in the work are extremely broad and the whole framework of the research is remarkable and outstanding. However, the author pays the utmost attention to one concept that is the main issue of the research. Williams puts all the attention to the concept of integrity and how it copes with the objections of Utilitarianism.

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This thought is represented by the author through the book, where he introduces the main characters to the audience, Jim, Pedro and the Indians that are in the jungles, where Pedro wants to kill a number of Indian people that are satiated there (Sher, 2012). Jim opposes to the wishes of his friend, and Pedro offers him an alternative. He suggests him to kill one Indian man if he does not want Pedro to kill any of them. Pedro finds this exchange to be fair enough to refuse his decision. But if Jim refuses to do that, Pedro is going to kill twenty Indians. As we can see, the dilemma is extremely complex as the character that opposes to murder has to kill one person to save nineteen, and if he refuses to kill one of the Indians, his decision will result in the death of all of them.

The ignorance of the situation is not an option as it will also lead to the killing of all the twenty Indian people. Jim faces the unbelievably hard choice that has to be made and he decides to kill one Indian. Here, Williams demonstrates the correct answer, according to Utilitarianism that sees such a choice as the right one. But in fact, the philosopher does not consider this variant to be morally correct (McKinnn, 1991). The main reason of the false character of Utilitarianism is defined by Williams as negative responsibility. In this frame, the individual committing the particular action is responsible not only for the action that he does, but also for the failure of the action and the omissions connected with the following action.

Therefore, the agent is responsible for the whole amount of issues concerning the action towards other people and possible effect of the action. Here, Williams sees that the commitment of the action in the Utilitarian view is immediately followed by the evaluation of the state of the existing character of affairs. He sees the connection of the affairs with the agent himself as the agent gets to this situation because of a series of different life situations and the state of affairs that he brings with himself is given to him in this connected chain of life events. Therefore, Utilitarianism is connected with the negative responsibility due to the fact that it does not pay attention to the separateness of moral agents (Harris, 1974).

Williams sees the reason of such tendencies in the utmost attention that Utilitarianism pays to the series of issues concerning the state of affairs. This somehow shifts the attention of the moral agents from such concepts as “me”, “you” and “they” (Duggan , 2011). This is logically followed by the lack of evaluation of the agent’s self and the same refers to his understanding of the world around him and people that are affected by his actions and decisions. The distance from understanding of “me” leads to a logical conclusion that the action cannot give me any potential benefit or harm, and if there is no good or bad to me, than the same refers to you.

This is what the author tries to explain to the audience as his main character faces a serious dilemma concerning the action that involves a potentially serious affect for a particular group of people. In case Jim agrees to kill the Indian, he will commit a real murder. But in case he refuses to kill one person, all the twenty people together will be murdered by Pedro (Duggan , 2011). The specification of utilitarianism is that he will find a feeling of disgust followed by the highest level of inner opposition to the possible murder of the Indian inappropriate and irrational.

The concept of Bernard Williams concerning the objection of integrity against the Utilitarianism has played the decisive role for the development of the theoretical thought within the area that claimed about the failure of Utilitarianism to represent a serious option and reliable theoretical approach in the frame of its highly demanding character. This theory has been met by serious criticism from the classical Utilitarians and supporters of the theoretical school that opposed to the idea that the Utilitarianism is not composed of the integrity of the agents. The approach underlines that if there is a necessity to kill as a right action in the particular situation, then there is no place and no reason for the hesitant attitude of the agent concerning the issue and the fact that the person will be killed is observed as a logical conclusion of the process.

Therefore, the agent that faces such dilemma and is really influenced by the feelings of disgust and hesitance about the perspective to kill a person in the situation when the action will eventually save the rest of people is irrational. The feelings of the agent in this case are considered to be personal feelings that form another factor to be taken into account analyzing the final outcomes of the whole process. It impacts the final performance of the act as if the actor feels bad about doing something and is a reasonable argument for refusing to perform the action. But talking about the moral dimension evaluation of the action, it is important to add that the personal attitude will not be taken into account. These feelings will also have no impact on the personality of the agent and the formation of his image as well as the role he played in the situation.

This lack of moral dimension within the relations between the agency and the act of doing the thing that has to be done in terms of Utilitarianism demonstrated in such situations as those represented by Williamson shows that the theory divides actors from the actions and therefore alienates us from the things that we do. In practical implementation, this means that the individual has completed the particular r task, while the other has done something else, but such analysis excludes the morality of the action that is in fact extremely important and it does impact the general image of acting, the motivation and the final evaluation of the agent.

The concept of morality requires more attention and the evaluation of the notion has to be broader than just simple consideration of the fact that this concept also took place in the process. The concept of morality has to be regarded broader than the approach used in Utilitarianism to evaluate it as one of the issues that have to lead to the desirable outcome (Brink, 1996). Williams explains it as the main aspect of the issue in the series of cases and therefore the wrong attitude towards morality opposes the approach as agents can be mothers, children and friends, meaning that the moral dimension is the key one for the them in a serious number of situations and the actions they complete everyday are connected with the personal feelings they have and therefore the final outcome and the real image of the action is also evaluated in accordance with the level of morality. And here, Williams comes to the attack on the integrity that Utilitarianism commits through the dismissal of actions that the individuals do.

According to Williamson, integrity of the individual is the concentration of all the amount of actions we do in our life together with the projects we participate in and the commitments that are present in our everyday life as all this in general formats the real value of our life and gives it a real sense and motivation. Integrity therefore is something that we understand as the thing that characterizes us in the best way, as we can easily associate ourselves with the things we do and the projects we implement into practice, which means that it defines who we really are in life.

As we can see, integrity is an essential concept to understand the reason of life and the real nature of the individual that gives the perfect analysis of his life and all the actions he did. Therefore, in cases when the utilitarianism requires from the individual to commit an action that he feels wrong about and is personally against, it violates the integrity of this person. This happens because Utilitarianism enforces an individual to commit things that are closely connected with his personality and are considered to be the ones that are opposed to his emotional stance, his self-identification and the evaluation of things that he has in his life. Here, Williams sees the key role of the inadequate dimension of integrity that defines the morality of the person. This issue can have a negative potential impact on the personality, it life orienteers and therefore the valuation and wrong understanding of integrity comes to the highest scale, and the impact it might have on the person has to be properly evaluated (Brink, 1996).

Conclusion

It can be concluded that Williams sees the series of failures in one of the basic schools of philosophy. Utilitarianism is considered by Williams as the theory that does not meet all the requirements of proper evaluation and analysis of the process as it does not take into account one of the most important issues - integrity (Smart & Williams, 1973). The problem of misevaluation of integrity was the key aspect for the research in his book, in which he used a series of practical examples in order to explain the reason of such high importance of integrity as the notion that is closely connected with the human personality, our feelings and emotions and why they play an important and sometimes decisive role in the series of cases.

The reason of the action that the agent does is not only formed in order to come to the best possible result as people also have personal attitude to life that is formed during the period of living and therefore there are things that the person cannot commit, because these actions oppose to the personal identification of the agent who therefore faces a serious dilemma between the one that is required and therefore right for the process that potentially results in the positive outcome and the one the he considers to be right for himself. This violation of integrity is the most important aspect that explains why the theory is weak and the extent of harm of personal integrity makes the notion extremely important and worth consideration.

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