Today, I would like to address some of the issues that are presented in a hypothetical case brought forward by a member of the studio audience.
"Bob" will have to obey the orders of the VAST majority of people not named "Bob" and work for those people's benefit, under pain of torture/death. Now, in that case it seems "generally" people DO NOT have a desire to inhibit this desire. Most people are not named "Bob" and this desire therefore benefits them. Do we then refer to some vague overall desire for "decency" that should make people oppose this desire, even if will benefit them. Even if there is absolutely no chance that further laws will be passed that will make them a slave?
First, I would like to direct the user’s attention to the post, The 1000Sadists Problem, where I deal with the hypothetical case in which 1000 sadists have desires that would be fulfilled by the torture of a single individual. This is a similar, though not identical, to the case presented above.
The problem here is that the 'problem' comes from a failure to distinguish 'desire utilitarianism' from 'desire fulfillment act utilitarianism'. Desire fulfillment act utilitarianism says, 'Do that act that will fulfill the most and the strongest desires'. Whereas desire utilitarianism says, 'Do that act that a person with good malleable desires would perform'.
Good malleable desires, in turn, are desires that are capable of being molded through social forces and that tend to fulfill other desires. Thus, they are desires that people generally are able to promote through social forces such as praise and condemnation, and are desires that people have many and strong reasons to promote (because the desire promoted tends to fulfill other desires).
Second, morality is a tool invented for use in the real world. Prospects such as, "absolutely no chance that further laws will be passed that will make them a slave" are not real-world concerns.
Furthermore, it introduces such contrivances into the situation that it would make judgment impossible. What else would have to be true for it to be the case that there is 'absolutely no chance' that further laws will be passed that will make them a slave? If we have no answer to that question, then we do not have the facts that we need to go any further.
In the real world, we know that this decision to enslave Bob is completely arbitrary. A person who is willing to enslave people named Bob can, at any type, acquire a desire to enslave people named Alonzo or Tip. We have good reason to avoid such a state of affairs, so we have good reason to promote an aversion to slavery. In fact, we have good reason to ally with Bob so as to make this aversion to slavery universal.
Furthermore, if people are generally comfortable with slavery, then that makes them less likely to take action to protect freedom. There are a great many ways to limit peoples' freedom other than slavery. Limitations on where they may live, where they may work, who they may marry, what they may say, who they may speak with . . . these are all ways, short of slavery, of limiting freedom.
If I can create in others a love of freedom, then I can trust them to act so as to avoid states of affairs in which freedom is being inhibited, which will help to protect my freedom and those of others that I care about.
However, this love of freedom entails an aversion to slavery – so my reasons for promoting a love of liberty are also reasons for promoting a dislike of slavery. Promoting this love of freedom means promoting an aversiont to slavery - which means condemning those who would promote or sustain the institution of slavery.
If people are willing to tolerate slavery, then they cannot have a love of freedom. This means not only that I and those people I care about are at greater risk of being enslaved. It means that I and those I care about are at risk of having our liberties lost in other ways.
On the other hand, if I – and others – get together to promote a general love of liberty, then our own freedoms and the freedoms of those we care about are more secure.
Of course, while a society is busy promoting a love of liberty in people generally, this includes promoting a love of liberty in ourselves. This love of liberty motivates us to avoid states of affairs in which we limit the liberty of others, just as it motivates others to avoid states of affairs in which they limit our own liberty.
We have many and strong reasons to promote a general love of liberty in others, just as they have many and strong reasons to promote a love of liberty in us. The way to do this is through praise of those who support and defend liberty generally, and the condemnation of tyrants and those who deny liberty.