Confronting the Central Conflict: Raz on Well-Being and Morality
In the 1970s, Utilitarianism, which had dominated the landscape of moral philosophy since its inception in the 19th century, faced crushing waves of criticisms. One of the most influential of those criticisms was Bernard Williams’s integrity objection. This is the complaint that the utilitarian requirement of impartiality alienates the agent from the source of her well-being. The general interpretation of this criticism was that it pointed to a problem that could be solved only by agentrelative moral theories, which recognise the moral permissibility of granting one’s self-interest greater weight than moral demands in situations where the latter are not very pressing. Against this interpretation, Raz claimed that the integrity problem called instead for a radical solution: a conception of well-being and morality as inseparable, or the classical view. Intuitively, given that the integrity problem presupposes the separability of morality and well-being as distinct normative spheres, the possibility of the conflict between the agent’s well-being and moral demands, and hence the possibility of moral self-sacrifice (i.e. the relinquishment of one’s interests for moral reasons), a solution grounded in the inseparability of well-being and morality cannot be compatible with the conflict and self-sacrifice. Raz has, however, vindicated the compatibility of his classical view with both. In this thesis, I examine whether Raz’s classical view solves the integrity problem and exhibits this compatibility. I argue that it (dis)solves the integrity problem (by treating the individual’s well-being and her moral concerns as being inextricably intertwined), but loses the possibility of the conflict and self-sacrifice. In response to this failure, I outline an alternative, agent-relative view - the moderate dualistic view - of the relation of morality and well-being, and show how it succeeds on both counts.