Utilitarianism

J.J.C. Smart

I wonder: does anyone read Smart's half of this book anymore?

Williams loathes utilitarianism, which gives his attack some verve, but his attack seems totally inconclusive. He does manage to show that utilitarianism would, in extreme situations, have counter-intuitive consequences, and that it is very demanding. Any utilitarian would be happy to admit as much. He doesn't show what he tries to, that utilitarianism makes agency unintelligible.

The last line of the essay expresses a hope that we won't hear about utilitarianism for much longer. That reveals that Williams underestimates how deep utilitarian thinking runs in the modern world.

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