Separateness Of Persons

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The notion of “separateness of persons” has posed several convincing objections to utilitarianism. These have been voiced by Rawls, Nozick and Nagel all of which have disregarded the moral force that drives utilitarianism, highlighting the theories lack of recognition of individuality and separate utility. To me, the “separateness of persons” not only is successful in silencing utilitarianism, it also is crucial to our very concept of morality. I argue this through presenting defeats to classical objections to the dogma, proposed by Brink and Mckerlie. In doing so, it highlights that morality is reliant on individuality and personal values. Morality cannot be universalized to maximise utility. Therefore, “Separateness of persons” is not only …show more content…
Rawls and Nozick argue that utilitarianism does not consider that beings are individuals in their own right and “does not take seriously the distinction between persons”. Utilitarianism focuses solely on achieving maximal total utility. In order to do this, it sacrifices an even distribution of utility and ‘sanctions injustice’. It directs us to act unjustly to a few in order to achieve happiness on a larger scale- failing to respect individuals needs and rights. According to Nozick this notion is flawed as “to use a person [for another’s benefit] does not sufficiently respect and take account of the fact that he is a separate person, that his is the only life he has. He does not get some overbalancing good from his sacrifice”. To put more plainly, the theory suggests that sacrificing the life of one person in order to maximise overall utility is still immoral, for that person is an individual in their own right and will not benefit from acting in this way. Utilitarianist’s fail to recognise that we are all separate beings in our own right. Instead it treats being’s as mere ‘repositories of …show more content…
One of which is David Brink. He argues that the “separateness of persons” is not a successful objection to utilitarianism as it proposes that individuals have varying levels of utility. According to Brink, it involves a type of ‘prioritarianism’ which would involve “dictatorship of the worst-off”. Consequently, utilitarianism could be defended by highlighting its ability to promote neutrality and equality. Everyone and their utility is viewed objectively. This response however is self-refuting, as utilitarianism is also exercising ‘prioritarianism’. It is prioritising the greatest number over the lives and values of the minority. In fact, this type of ‘prioritarianism’ is morally worse. Utilitarian’s focus solely on utility rather than the individual in which possesses it- consequently, when decisions are made it encourages unjust and rash responses. Individuals are merely seen as vehicles of utility and not individuals in their own right. It therefore is implausible to disregard the “separateness of persons” for this

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