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comment by baitedcrow
baitedcrow  ·  1843 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How do You Approach Morality?

The overall thrust of my ethics, in philosophical terms, is utilitarian - when it comes up I loosely refer to myself as a weak rule utilitarian.

But in philosophy-educated circles I often get argued with that I'm really a deontologist (because all rule utilitarians are deontologists) or that I'm really an act utilitarian (because rule utilitarianism that isn't secretly deontology is just act utilitarianism). It's all very funny because the things I apparently really am are kind of in opposite directions along an axis.

Having looked into various usages of the terms I've come to the conclusion that the definitions of all three have expanded / bled into one another to the extent that there is flat-out overlap between them, and the arguments are mostly about which label to apply to a static position with static implications. The arguments about what the position "really" is have no real-world impact and "weak rule utilitarian" gets across that I am more or less a utilitarian with emphasis on the need to formulate principles for general cases in order to make utilitarianism more broadly practicable, but also allowing for exceptions to general rules under circumstances where a deviant course of action is guaranteed to maximize benefits moreso than the general rule. So I keep using it, for now anyway.

I fall under the consequentialist umbrella because I think most actions/states implied by the other formal ethical positions I'm semi-familiar with can be alternatively justified in terms of their consequences. I think I'm technically a relativist, but don't remember that that excludes me from promoting wide scale adoption of certain ethical standards - it just removes universality as an option for argumentation.

Even though I like knowing how to (roughly) couch my ethical perspective in the proper academic terms, I do think that philosophy as an historical and intellectual practice has a really troubling tendency to devolve into nitpicky meaninglessness all too often.