Careless pursuit of the good is simply bad
"So to do things that risk deterring many others in society (at a population-wide level) from following utilitarian ethics is to risk immense harm".
For a while, I was thinking about trying to write an economic model of this sort of thing with repeated games, collective reputation, and evolutionary dynamics based on the fraction of utilitarians in society (and/or the frequency of their 'transgressive' behavior) vis-a-vis other 'types'. It didn't seem worth pursuing at the time, but maybe could interesting at some point.
Some relevant stuff I looked at though in case anyone cares:
- Jonathan Levin on Collective Reputation https://siepr.stanford.edu/publications/working-paper/dynamics-collective-reputation
- Ingela Alger "Evolution and Kantian morality" https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899825616300410
Under a utilitarian framework, how would “rights” be determined? For instance, if there was evidence that imposing the death penalty prevented future crime, would prudent utilitarianism still prioritize the criminal’s rights over the potential welfare lost. And if so, what would be the basis for these rights outside of welfare?
I do think some of these things depend a bit on how many utilitarians there are in society. I don't think we really know what it would be like if there were a high number. E.g. What would capitalism look like in such a society?
Richard, I know you used to be a multi-level utilitarian. Are you still?