Does the case of George the chemist show that some forms of utilitarianism are false?

Does the case of George the chemist show that some forms of utilitarianism are false?

Second Paper Assignment

  • Describe J. S. Mill’s principle of utility. (b) Explain what Mill means when he says that the principle of utility is the “First Principle” of morality and explain Mill’s reasons for thinking that a person’s (or culture’s) morality must have a first principle. (c) Distinguish direct and indirect utilitarianism.
  • Describe Bernard Williams’ hypothetical case in which “George the

chemist” faces a moral dilemma. Does the case of George the chemist show that

some forms of utilitarianism are false? If you think so, explain which forms of

utilitarianism the example disproves. If you think certain forms of utilitarianism

yield the correct answer about what George should do, explain this. How might

someone who accepts an indirect form of normative utilitarianism but who

nevertheless thinks that advancing happiness is the whole point of acting morally

justify acting in accordance with a rule (on a particular occasion) when he knows

that if he made an exception to that rule on that particular occasion alone this would

lead to more happiness than would result if he did not make an exception on that


The paper must be 4-5 pages long, double-spaced text in a normal

font (e.g. Times New Roman 12 pt.), with normal tabs and margins

(e.g. Microsoft Word’s default settings).

1. Against Consequentialism: Consequentialists believe that consequences are all that matter, morally. When asking whether a choice was morally right or wrong, we need only look at the RESULTS of that choice. If it is the choice that produced the best consequences (i.e., the greatest amount of good, out of all the options), then it was the right choice. If not, then it was the wrong choice. (Note: Utilitarians are consequentialists who are hedonists about the good, and impartial about who receives those goods.) Bernard Williams presents two cases in order to undermine this view: George, the Chemist George is a chemist very much in need of a job. He is offered a job where he will research and design chemical and biological weapons for the military. He is hesitant because he is morally opposed to chemical/biological warfare. He is told, confidentially by a friend who already works there, that if George doesn’t take the job, the applicant second in line will—that applicant has no moral qualms about such weapons, and this will likely result in more deaths in the end.


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