Bernard Williams Thought Experiment (Clip from "Utilitarianism: Crash Course")


Source: Bernard Williams
Affiliation: Crash Course

In this video, Crash Course explains the basics of utilitarian philosophy, which is centered around the idea that the morally right thing to do is whatever brings about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. In this particular clip, Crash Course explains Bernard Williams' thought experiment objection to utilitarianism, which hinges on the question: Should morality ever require the murder of an innocent life?

This relates to philosophy of work in part because all questions of "what's the right thing to do?" should impact our job choices. But it also relates to the question of agency in an unjust system: If the person is going to be killed anyway, does it matter if I am the one pulling the trigger? Likewise, if the entire economic system is unjust and exploitative, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, does it matter if I participate in the injustice? 

Keywords: Philosophy