LSE Philosophy Fellow Nikhil Venkatesh has now published his new paper ‘Williams’s Integrity Objection as a Psychological Problem’ with Springer Nature.

About the paper: Utilitarianism is the view that as far as morality goes, one ought to choose the option which will result in the most overall well-being—that is, that maximises the sum of whatever makes life worth living, with each person’s life equally weighted. The promise of utilitarianism is to reduce morality to one simple principle, easily incorporated into policy analysis, economics and decision theory. However, utilitarianism is not popular amongst moral philosophers today. This is in large part due to the influence of Williams’s ‘Integrity Objection’ (1973). Though the Integrity Objection has been influential in turning philosophers against utilitarianism, it is also difficult to make precise, evidenced by the myriad interpretations in the literature. In this paper I interpret the objection as holding that agents who accept utilitarianism cannot, as a matter of psychology, be committed to their projects. I explore other interpretations, finding some to be inconsistent with Williams’s approach, and others to be relatively easily answerable by the utilitarian. The psychological problem I identify is harder for utilitarians to avoid, though I have begun to offer a response in other work.

Link to the paper (open access).