By: Mr. Y
I wrote a short essay at one of my friend’s blog. I copied part of it here. Follow the link to read the whole thing.
In his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Robert Nozick lists two types of moral rules: utilitarian rules and side constraints. Utilitarian rules are basically end goals that a person or society must reach. For example, there may be a moral rule which says that society must achieve the greatest amount of good possible. In this system, rules and institutions are implemented which lead to this end, which is seen as the moral goal to aim for. The other type of moral rules are side constraints, which are not concerned with the end goal of their implementation, but rather those actions themselves. For example, a side constraint may be ‘do not murder’. This would be a side constraint moral rule if you implement that not looking at what would be the consequences of not murdering people. Murder would be considered bad, whatever the consequences may follow, even if murder increased the happiness and prosperity of a nation or group of people.
My question is, which of these two types of moral rules are correct. As in, are there intrinsic flaws or inconsistencies in one of these lines of thinking? I would contend that the utilitarian line of thinking does.