Philippa Foot Arguments Against Utilitarianism

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Caleb Stephens April 15, 2017 Introduction to Philosophy The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that Philippa Foot’s objection, raised to her own argument against utilitarianism, is correct. Her initial thesis is that benevolence, while the foundation of utilitarianism, is an internal end of morality, rather than the ultimate end of morality. The possible objection to this that there must be some overarching reason behind morality, which must imply a form of consequentialism. The response she offers is that there should be some other form of morality, which is a weak argument, as it does not provide an alternate conception of morality itself. The context of the paper is discussion of why utilitarianism is consistently appealing. As Foot…show more content…
This seems to make sense, as if one is a moral person, there must be some aim of the morality. She continues this by saying “For surely he must want others to be happy. To deny this would be to deny that benevolence is a virtue-and who wants to deny that?” (47) By saying this, she says that benevolence, or caring about others’ welfare or happiness, is definitely a virtue. She then continues, “a benevolent person must often aim at the good of others and call it ‘a good thing’” (48). This provides an adequate definition of what a benevolent person is. She then continues “This, then, seems to be the way in which seeing states of affairs in which people are happy as good states of affairs really is an essential part of morality” (48), arguing that it must be part of morality to try to have people happy. She then draws an important distinction between having benevolence as an essential part of morality, and having it as the end of morality. “But it is very important that we have found this end within morality, and forming part of it, not standing outside it as the ‘good state of affairs’ by which moral action in general is to be judged.” (48). She goes on to explain that other virtues can supersede benevolence, which provides proof that benevolence is not the ultimate end. “We find in our ordinary moral code many requirements and prohibitions inconsistent with the idea that benevolence is the whole of morality.” (48). If benevolence is not the overall end of morality, but instead the end of one virtue within morality, then it cannot be the basis for morality as a
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