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Against commitment

Venkatesh, Nikhil (2022) Against commitment. Philosophical Studies, 179 (12). 3511 - 3534. ISSN 0031-8116

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11098-022-01847-w

Abstract

In his famous ‘Integrity Objection’, Bernard Williams condemns utilitarianism for requiring us to regard our projects as dispensable, and thus precluding us from being properly committed to them. In this paper, I argue against commitment as Williams defines it, drawing upon insights from the socialist tradition as well as mainstream analytic moral philosophy. I show that given the mutual interdependence of individuals (a phenomenon emphasised by socialists) several appealing non-utilitarian moral principles also require us to regard our projects as dispensable. This means that those who endorse those principles cannot appeal to Williams’s argument against utilitarianism. It also puts pressure on his thought that moral theories ought to permit commitment – in fact, it suggests that they ought not. Regarding one’s projects as dispensable may be alienating, and this may motivate us to hang onto commitment and reject these non-utilitarian principles along with utilitarianism. However, commitment also threatens a kind of alienation – from other people. Drawing upon the socialist tradition again, I argue that avoiding this form of alienation is necessary for proper engagement with our projects, and thereby with ourselves.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.springer.com/journal/11098
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author.
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2022 14:39
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2024 03:39
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/116583

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