Article/Publication Details

Utilitarianism as a Pragmatic Choice with Empirical Support in Joshua Greene’s Ethics – A Critical Analysis

(Original title: Utilitarizmus ako praktická voľba s empirickou podporou v etike Joshuu Greena – kritická reflexia)
Filozofia, 2021, vol. 76, No 6, pp. 451 – 464.
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The aim of this paper is to critically analyze Joshua Greene’s arguments in favor of utilitarianism and against deontology. There are two main arguments with which Greene supports his utilitarian ethical position. The first is metaethical argument, which redefines the purpose of ethics as a search for those moral norms and principles that fulfill our practical need to resolve moral conflicts in the most successful way. The second argument is based on Greene’s psychological research on trolley problems. The thesis of this paper is that the stated arguments do not sufficiently justify favoring utilitarianism over deontology. It is an unjustified belief that the aim of ethics should be the search for the most successful way to resolve moral conflicts. There is at least one alternative position, according to which the role of ethics is to find the best way to deal with human vulnerability and dependence on other members of society. Acceptance of this interpretation of ethics would inevitably lead to acceptance of the deontological language of appeals to moral duties and obligations, which Greene rejects.


Deontology, Dual process theory, Ethics of care, Joshua Greene, Utilitarianism