Wednesday, 26 August 2009


For quite a while I have been exploring ethics and have been making arguments that Alonzo Fyfe's Desire Utilitarianism is the best provisional theory to date (that I have come across at least). I also have explored various labels that can best represent this theory and have used in the past Desire Consequentialism before reverting back to Alonzo's label. Still the issue I had with Alonzo's label, although it does accurately represent his theory, is that it too easily gets confused with Desire Fulfilment Act Utilitarianism and the many straw man objections to classical utilitarianism, which I would prefer to avoid to, instead, focus on actual criticisms of the theory I am a proponent of.

I coined the term "Desirism" both keep to a relevantly meaningful label to this approach to ethics, whilst at the same time, to help avoid dealing with pointless misunderstandings of the types just noted. (And it also avoids much typing of the term "utilitarianism").

Well, the newest proponent of this approach, Luke of Commonsense Atheism has started using this label as has, to some (increasing) degree, Alonzo himself. So I think that since this has buy in from both the originator and its latest (other) proponent, I will stay with this label and not look for any other labels.

There are two implication of this, one incidental and the other substantive.

The incidental one is that Luke, very kindly, has produced a mini-FAQ on some of my writings on Desirism, in his post Desirism: faithlessgod’s writings. The second substantive implication, is that, although I hope this eliminates pointless cul de sacs in arguing why this is not common utilitarianism, there are still issues that relate to Desirism as it is not just a consequentialist but it still is, at least partly, a utilitarian approach.

With respect to Luke's pointing to a selection of my posts, I note that they are in need to* typographic editorial revision, which I will first proceed to do. Once this is done, I think it would be interesting to identify what I think are all the relevant posts on this topic and create my own FAQ post. I might create a label, more specific than the current ethics label, for this too.

Apart from all this housekeeping, I am having an interesting debate with Kip at Luke's site. I will address his issues, which refer to the substantive implication, here, once this housekeeping is done. If you cannot wait and are interested, you can look at the comment thread in Luke's Desirism: More Questions Answered Part 2. My thinking, upon which I need to expand in a forthcoming post, was recently discussed in Desires Types and Tokens.

* See what I mean, of course, I meant "of".