Thursday, 7/23

Deontological and Utilitarian Case Analysis






We began today considering the gulf, if you will, between the theoretical perspectives offered by utilitarianism, on the one hand, and deontology, on the other. In particular, we considered some of the decidedly grim history of human experimentation and read the exchanges between critics and researchers in the Willowbrook Hepatitis experiments. What we found, of course, were in some respects radically different ways of thinking about moral normative issues. It is clear from this discussion that such debates are extremely important in terms of both the judgments being made and in terms of the theoretical divide grounding those judgments.

After considering the long and deeply disturbing history of human experimentation, we turned to the case Keeping Track as a way to help further illuminate the divide between utilitarian and kantian approaches to moral normative analysis. Finally, we concluded by examining the case Save the Rave from Tuesday's class which we did not get to in that discussion. Cases like this help us see the many ways, I submit, moral analysis is significantly improved and sharpened by the addition of moral normative theory.

Our question now is whether an intermediate position exists between utilitarianism and deontology. That is to say, is there a position which captures both intuitions about the consequences of actions for individuals and respect for those individuals' autonomy and personhood.

We will pick up there next time.

Lecture Video

Today was much more of a discussion class, so I'm not sure how useful this lecture video will prove to be. Nevertheless, here it is, mask-muffled discussion and all. Attending were Roland and Tristen. I thought the discussion today quite good. I did manage to get this video down from yesterdays 4gb to 1.7gb, despite it's being longer overall. So I'm improving. Soon I'll have fancy Star Wars-style intro text, transitions, and background music. Okay, maybe not.