Response to “Utilitarianism Shot Down by Its Own Men” by Tuija Takala

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 13 (2):170-178 (2004)
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Abstract

In a lively, interesting, and provocative paper Tuija Takala charges Julian Savulescu and me with bringing utilitarianism into disrepute and indeed with attempting to shoot it down, presumably in flames.1 Takala does not mince words. When she suggests that in our writings “utilitarianism is turning into the monster its critics always thought it was”, she is associating herself with those who charge us with propounding, again her words, the “inhumane theory that allows the sacrifice of minorities, the killing of the innocent, and simplistic calculations on the value of life”. Perhaps surprisingly for someone who identifies herself strongly with utilitarianism, Takala seems to take the worst and most ignorant critics of consequentialism generally, and of utilitarianism in particular, at face value and suggests that because their lazy, tendentious, and misdirected attacks on those they take to be utilitarians are often made against Savulescu and me that we somehow bear responsibility for this and for any charges they make, however ill judged or poorly supported by evidence

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