TAR will be on hiatus for a week or so while I’m travelling. One amusing story to leave you with while I’m away.
In Prankster’s Ethics Andy & I suggested that there is a certain class of counterexamples to consequentialism which (a) seem fairly compelling and (b) don’t look like they would be instantiated. Ishani has suggested that the Minnesota Vikings “Love Boat” saga (I won’t link to this – Google should offer you plenty of stories) is a real-world example of an Egan-Weatherson style counterexample to consequentialism. Given a choice between living in a world where the Vikings did this and one where they didn’t, I would, without much hesitation, choose the one where they did. The whole thing hasn’t stopped being a source of amusement weeks after the event. But it is plausible that this was nevertheless the wrong thing to do – indeed that part of the reason I’d choose to be in such a world is that it is so wrong.
One important caveat. As we argue in the paper, there aren’t Egan-Weatherson style counterexamples that involve serious wrongness. If it turns out that the Vikings Love Boat involved serious criminal activity, as opposed to the mostly harmless high jinks we’ve come to expect from the Vikings, it will cease to be a counterexample, because it will cease to be utility maximising. (And I’ll feel very bad for having been so amused to date.) I hope that this isn’t the case. But still there is some doubt this is a real counterexample. So I’m less considerably less confident than I was a few weeks ago that consequentialism is empirically adequate on account of this case.
Posted by Brian Weatherson in Uncategorized