Utilitarianism (Life) Framework

The value criterion is...maximizing life.

Here are some of the best justifications for a utilitarianism (life) framework.

The standard is maximizing life!!!!

1. Actor Specificity. The text of the resolution questions government action, for which there is no act-omission distinction Sunstein:

Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermuele, “Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs,” Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Working Paper No. 85 (March 2005), p. 17.

In our view, any effort to distinguish between acts and omissions goes wrong by overlooking the distinctive features of government as a moral agent. If correct, this point has broad implications for criminal and civil law. Whatever the general status of the act/omission distinction as a matter of moral philosophy, the distinction is least impressive when applied to government, because the most plausible underlying considerations do not apply to official actors.  The most fundamental point is that unlike individuals, governments always and necessarily face a choice between or among possible policies for regulating third parties. The distinction between acts and omissions may not be intelligible in this context, and even if it is, the distinction does not make a morally relevant difference. Most generally, government is in the business of creating permissions and prohibitions. When it explicitly or implicitly authorizes private action, it is not omitting to do anything or refusing to act. Moreover, the distinction between authorized and unauthorized private action – for example, private killing – becomes obscure when government formally forbids private action but chooses a set of policy instruments that do not adequately or fully discourage it. If there is no act-omission distinction, then government is fully complicit with any harm it allows, so decisions are moral if they minimize harm. All means based and side constraint theories collapse because two violations require aggregation. 

This means some side constraint will always be violated, so the government should minimize violations. Life comes first because its instrumental to pursuing all other aims, so policies that effect life come first.

A. No links indicts of the standard- policymakers act in cases of uncertainty without full knowledge of every consequence or implication in the universe but are always obligated to act. Desirability and pain and pleasure are irrelevant since life comes first. B. Preempts is/ought fallacy and empirical constraints- generally speaking countries should and do act to promote overall wellbeing- constraints only exist because a pattern of consistency maximizes well being overall- defense proves my framework is more probable. C. Pure reason generates broad stroke guidelines that fail to account for complexities in public policies and experience based factors that alter normative conclusions. D. Coopt constitutivist appeals to the nature of agency- I change the focus from individuals to the collective body of rational willers- to be a state just is to maximize life. E. Morality by very nature is a guide to action, it has to provide a normative structure that generates prohibitions or obligations on action for individual agents or else it would be meaningless. Generic deflationary arguments have no impact, since the government always has to act, so on a substantive level, skepticism, permissibility, or the inability to prioritize are excluded. 

2. Epistemology- Non-natural theories are epistemically inaccessible. Papineau

David Papineau, “Naturalism”. SEP, 2007.( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/) RP 7/3/13

Moore took this argument to show that moral facts comprise a distinct species of non-natural fact. However, any such non-naturalist view of morality faces immediate difficulties, deriving ultimately from the kind of causal closure thesis discussed above. If all physical effects are due to a limited range of natural causes, and if moral facts lie outside this range, then it follow that moral facts can never make any difference to what happens in the physical world (Harman, 1986). At first sight this may seem tolerable (perhaps moral facts indeed don't have any physical effects). But it has very awkward epistemological consequences. For beings like us, knowledge of the spatiotemporal world is mediated by physical processes involving our sense organs and cognitive systems. If moral facts cannot influence the physical world, then it is hard to see how we can have any knowledge of them.

That commits us to maximizing expected well being. Naturalism says goodness judgements are relative to the life form, because the life form explains the standard of evaluation for a good object and explains why objects satisfy the standard. It’s no accident that objects who are subject to the form satisfy the form, just like it’s no accident for a dog to have four legs. This is only true if the life form perpetuates it self, since that ensures it’s no accident the form satisfies the standard to be of the form. Species must act in a accordance with it’s perpetuation, so we should maximize life.

[This framework originally and generously contributed by La Jolla RP.]