The Meaningless “Separateness of Persons” Chestnut

(posted April 15, 2006)


       “Obviously utilitarians know perfectly well that persons are separate. What they deny is that it follows from this separateness that one ought not to trade benefits to one person against benefits to another.”  Peter Singer, "Response to Martha Nussbaum", 2002.

       I have written an entire article on the vague and ultimately meaningless criticism that utilitarianism fails to respect the distinctness of persons.  I sort of wish I had saved myself the trouble, as the above quote by Peter Singer probably says all that needs to be said.  Nevertheless, anyone who wants to check out my article can find it at Polity 35, no. 4 (July, 2003): 479-90.  (and I would be happy to email an electronic copy to anyone with an email account ending in .edu)  


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