I was just listening to good ol’ Viced Rhino here:
I thought it was a rather brilliant video and I’d highly recommend it to all.
If anybody doesn’t have the time or inclination to watch the video (it’s a long one), I’ll summarize the basic topic and see where we get…
First, though, if you want to know where the idea comes from:
And in Nozick’s 1974 words:
Utilitarian theory is embarrassed by the possibility of utility monsters who get enormously greater sums of utility from any sacrifice of others than these others lose … the theory seems to require that we all be sacrificed in the monster’s maw, in order to increase total utility.
It’s a thought experiment that counters purist utilitarianism…
… But I don’t know any actual purist utilitarians, so I don’t know how valuable it is in that…
However… I like Viced Rhino’s take (heck, I don’t know if it’s his originally, but it’s damned good)… in his words (in the video description):
Today, Matt Slick of CARM explains how atheists have no basis for morality, all while ignoring the fact that Christians have to appeal to secular morality in order to rescue god from being an immoral monster. And as it turns out, the way that works is by believing that god is Robert Nozick’s Utility Monster.
What I’m really fascinated to know is… if any Christians here manage to watch the video through… do any of you acknowledge that your god could well be described as a utility monster? Do you, even if you don’t agree that that’s the way you see God, admit that there are some Christians who do?
If you just click the video I’ve linked it to about half way through where the discussion really kicks off (but it really is worth a watch from the beginning for context)… and here’s a quote from shortly after that jump-in point:
Matt Slick: But if the atheist says that it is wrong to enslave the minority to benefit the majority well then why is it wrong?
Viced Rhino: Because of diminishing returns (note from Andy: a point he explains just before) and the fact that a utility monster doesn’t actually exist, unless you believe that God exists and is the utility monster and that’s why we have to do what He thinks is morally right or wrong and, really, that actually does fit in with a lot of what people say about God, like, for instance, the justification for eternal torment for finite crimes is that any crime committed against an infinite being is an infinite crime, or, to rephrase, God gets more pleasure units from infinitely torturing people who have wronged Him than those people lose from being tortured, so, since God is the utility monster, we need to feed the utility monster, that’s the moral thing to do!