Chauncey C. Riddle
There is a rational back bone, that is to say there is a rule. The weakness of the moral sense philosophy is that just about anything can come out of it. Historically speaking much good came out the moral sense philosophy but also a good deal of evil. Because people would claim things for their conscience which were not true, either they were lying or they were mistaken. And there’s a real weakness in following conscience in that respect.
So Kant was trying to remedy that weakness by putting in a rational rule that people would follow that would keep them more in the path of good common sense than conscience seemed to be doing. The weakness in Kant’s system? Kant down-played the moral sense so much that it went into oblivion. He over-played the role that reason could play by hooking it to duty it became cast into things such as Hitler using it to get the Beirmauchen to be very obedient, which it was. Kant, I think he was a man of goodwill basically. But when you try to substitute things for the will of God you’ve got into trouble, that was his trouble. He may have done the best he could, I don’t know. But it’s plain, you see you need something more than that.
Let’s talk about utilitarianism. What is utilitarianism? The greatest pleasure to the greatest number of people is the goal of utilitarianism. So what is the good in utilitarianism? Pleasure. What kind of pleasure? What does utility mean? Usefulness. Usefulness for what? But what is the good? Utility is the principle or the means to get good but what is the good? Pleasure. What kind of pleasure? Sheer physical pleasure. This is a collective Scerinaicism. So the statesman has the job of figuring out what will bring the greatest pleasure to the greatest number of people. As a matter of fact that’s what most politicians try to do. They try to please the greatest number of their constituents they can so they can get re-elected. So we have some great national disasters in the making out of our selfishness.
From my reading it seems the goal of utilitarianism is for well-being not pleasure. You see well-being is a perfectly ambiguous term, it only means what you make it mean. And what utilitarian mean by that is the greatest pleasure. Well-being is simply pleasure. And isn’t that what the average American seems to want. What’s the great ideal for most Americans? A cruise in the Caribbean, with all kinds of Epicurean delights at the table and warm weather and sunshine and swimming. Not to mention other kinds of physical pleasures. What is the great weakness of this system? Human reason failed at this point. There is no way to determine what’s the greatest pleasure to the greatest number.
Even if pleasure is the good there’s no human epistemology that enables one to deliver the answer to that question. Why? What would you have to know to deliver the greatest amount of pleasure to the greatest number of people? You would have to know virtually everything. You would have to know all the possibilities for action and how much pleasure each of those possibilities would bring to one individual. What else would you have to know? You’d have to be able to sum up all possibilities and calculate what would be the greatest good for the greatest number. Obviously it’s impossible. Isn’t it obviously impossible? So when men think they’re doing that, what are they doing? They’re arrogating to themselves what? They’re arrogating to themselves godhood. They’re pretending they are God and that they can do what no mortal can do. That is sheer pride, you see. That’s what the Lord says is the great barrier, the great sin that keeps more people from their blessings than any other thing, it’s simply that, pride. When men think they are wise of themselves.
What are the strengths of utilitarianism? All these are attempts to make an ethical system.. The strength to utilitarianism that none of the other systems has, yes some of the others do, most of the other don’t. It has a social concern. It recognizes that the group is important. And that is important. And there are many sensitive people in the world who recognize that philosophies that only take care of the individual have something lacking. There has to be a social concern. Human beings are no individuals, that is to say I am not just me. Myself, me, doesn’t end at the surface of my body.
We live in a world that has fostered individualism for so long that the idea of individualism has run amuck. And again, a perfect example of that is the idea of abortion. That a woman need have no feeling of responsibility for her child at all.
In the gospel frame what is the circle of a social concern that we must have? Are you aware? When you repent do you repent of only your own sins? No. If you wish to be celestial your circle has to be wider than that. How wide? Many of you may never of heard this. This is one point of the gospel that’s almost never talked about. I don’t know why. We are responsible for repenting for the sins of our ancestors back to the fourth generation.
Now, what does that mean? The sin carries down. We all know the statement, that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generations. That’s the negative of this positive thing. When we repent for them we have to repent for those sins. Because we are the heirs for those sins. Let’s make a graphic illustration, supposing that my great grandfather stole some money. He stole one thousand dollars. And he passed on the money to his children. They invested the money and it grew and it was passed on to their children and finally it comes down to me. And I’m the beneficiary of the thousand dollars. Now, that’s tainted money.
What have I got to do? If I wish to be a celestial being, what do I have to do? Repent of that by changing the course that it has taken. Now the repentance needs to go two directions. What two directions does it need to go? It has to begin with me so that I don’t