How would you behave in these scenarios? Scenario 1: Your friend has been taken in for questioning in relation to a crime he may or may not have committed. He assures you that he did not commit the crime, but you can’t tell if he is being honest or not, and you think that there’s about a 50% probability that he committed the crime. Another person has also been taken in for questioning, and similarly there is a 50% chance that he has committed the crime (assume it is not possible that anybody else has committed the crime). Your friend asks you to testify on his behalf claiming you believe it to be seriously unlikely that he committed the crime - if you do it, you slightly increase the chance that he will be found innocent and the other person will be found guilty. Do you do it? Does your decision as to whether to do it or not depend on whether the other person has someone else testifying on their behalf?
I think this type of decision-making in hypotheticals stresses “black and white” thinking when this isn’t a way to view relationships, loyalty, and decisions. Utilitarianism is mainly presented to us with decisions that affect a large amount of people, prime example: covid-19 vaccine, get the vaccine and protect a lot of people or don’t get the vaccine to protect one’s right to freedom? Utility goes towards getting the vaccine. In these scenarios..I don’t think utility need be applied
I feel like you don't take your own emotions or your self worth into account at all.
I really dont see how donating all your money is a utilitarian thing. By doing that you destroy yourself. That is far away from effective atruism. You are generating money right now and to keep generating it you need to take care of yourself. Donating everything is not doing that.
I am not sure if the cases you offer are too simplistic to draw any insight from them. What purpose does Loyalty have here? I can only imagine that people who are loyal want loyalty in return. It is some sort of power play.
In that sense i really don't understand scenario 2. What friend asks such a thing? What an incredible burden they gave! It really depends on their reasoning. Such wishes dont come from thin air. They jave meaning attached to them. This case lacks any meaning at all. What is loyalty without meaning?
Anyway: I would not agree to that wish in the first place
Case3: Depending on what my friend does, it could be that this has a positive effect on me as well. Anyways, this is again such a decision that is kinda detached from reality. How did that other person came to know it? And why does that person has the right to ask such a favor? How are you even able to properly estimate the utlity a random person has. They could be pretending. At least more likly than your friend.
One way out would be to let those 2 people discuss it themselves. Let them decide.
Case1: I would make the best possible truthfull statement i can make.
case 4: I think the immoral thing here is that i am able to decide it. Both decisions are immoral. The moral decision for me would be to discuss this with the other party.
Try as we might to simulate it, our actual brains are not singular agents. So of course we have a loyalty module, and it is going to generate discomfort regardless of which philosophy your philosophical/system 2 module has decided on. It doesn’t really mean a failure of the philosophy to encompass enough, just that we live in a complicated world with complicated brains
If you weren't already familiar, you might want to checkout Moral Foundations Theory, some of which has a popular representation on moralfoundations.org
They posit there are basically 6 moral dimensions the comprise your moral intuition, such as care, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity, liberty.
Loyalty is a strong and clear signal I feel, and I am drawn in most of these to the loyal choice also.
However, I will point out that loyalty can have some disadvantages. What happens when it is burning through all your resources and reducing your own capacities to choose the loyal thing? This gets tricky with close circle/family people, and it is harder to calculate than just "Don't create a second victim" or any other simple statement. What I notice is that my general tendency towards loyalty induces me to burn out a few more resources and suffer quite a bit more reduced capacity than the standard model human in the process of aiding close circle/family.
The costs here are non-trivial. As a result, I exclude more people from my circle than I might if I were to be willing to drop them faster or burn the bridges faster. Part of the benefit is I expect the same from them. I am not one to make this tacit, because if I am going to be your brother in the last mile then you'd better be willing to be that for me as well. However, at this stage of my life I also think the value of loyalty may be overrated, and there may be more hedons/utility points gained if I can let people enter and exit my own circle more freely. In other words, I think I should reduce frictions for both entry and exit.
So, loyalty has layers of costs and benefit. I suspect most people do too much of this tacitly, which is an issue I will set aside. In my case, loyalty has clear payoff matrices, but reduced loyalty also likely has some clear payoffs as well, and I intend to try it more.
People who are closer to you, give you an easier time in amplifying utility.