Some more comments from a member of the studio audience:
If it is demonstrated that keeping women in-doors is harmonious (tending to fulfill more and stronger desires than it thwarts), it would still be wrong - because we value the freedom of women, not just the average desire fulfillment, and am willing to sacrifice desire fulfillment on the altar of freedom and autonomy.
First, I have to ask where the term 'average' came from in 'average desire fulfillment'?
Second, nothing in desire utilitarianism states that we value desire fulfillment. What we value is chocolate, sex, the company of friends, praise, physical comfort, the absence of pain, name recognition, excitement, and thousands of other things – different things and to different degrees for each person. There is probably some desire for desire fulfillment in there somewhere, but it would still only be one desire among many.
Desire fulfillment is just a word to describe a state in which there is a desire that P and P is true.
Third, the moral question is not what we are willing to sacrifice on the altar of other values. The moral question is what we should be willing to sacrifice of other values. It does not follow from the fact that we are willing to make a particular sacrifice that we should make that sacrifice.
Fourth, if it is demonstrated that keeping women in-doors is harmonious, it would have to be harmonious with the love of freedom, would it not? The only way to allow this type of imposition is if we inhibited or suppressed the love of freedom. However, if we inhibited the love of freedom, then we would have to do without the desire-fulfillment that freedom brings.
There are, as I have argued repeatedly, many and good reasons to promote an overall love of freedom. They begin with the fact that the most informed, least corruptible agent to put in charge of each person's desire fulfillment is typically that person himself. This might not be the case for young children and mentally handicapped adults, but it is generally true.
Since each of us is the most knowledgeable and least corruptible agent to put in charge of our own lives, we have reason to promote an inhibition in others against interfering with that liberty – and they have reason to create the same inhibition in us. This would give us reason to oppose “keeping women in-doors”.
So, as it turns out, you have started with a contradiction – that a violation of liberty can be harmonious with a love of liberty.
Furthermore, you seem to deny the descriptive nature of your theory. If all you're doing is describing a common should, then there is no "universal" should, in the sense that your "should" is not prescriptive.
Well, if I am describing 'should' then I am describing what prescription is and how it works, am I not?
And if I am describing the phenomenon of prescription accurately, then I should be able to identify that which is correctly prescribed and that which is incorrectly prescribed.
A state of affairs S is prescribed for agent A if and only if (and to whatever degree) the agent has a 'reason for action that exists' to bring about S. To say that S is prescribed for A, but A has no reason for action to bring about S, is incoherent.
Desires are the only reasons for action that exist. I have not seen the slightest bit of evidence supporting the existence of any other reasons for action. It is still the case that a claim that we should do something when there is no reason for action that exists to do that thing is nonsense.
DU doesn't, cannot, say that I or you "should" not torture a child…
Sure it can.
I or you should not torture a child.
That wasn’t difficult at all.
It appears quite obvious that a person who tortures a child has desires that tend to thwart the desires of others, or at least lacks desires that tend to fulfill the desires of others. The bulk of people have many and strong reasons to condemn a person whose desires are such that he would torture a child. Those reasons give them reason to bring the social tools of condemnation to bear against those whose desires are such that they would torture a child. Identifying a person who would torture a child as somebody that people generally have many and strong reasons to condemn is captured in the moral statement, "It is wrong to torture a child." From which it follows that I or you should not torture a child.
[Desire utilitarianism] merely points out that society at large will tend to exert social forces opposed to child torturing.
This is false.
What society at large will tend to do is not the same as what people in general have many and strong reasons to do.
What an agent will do is act so as to fulfill the most and strongest of his desires, given his beliefs. What an agent moral-should do is act as a person with good desires would act. This means that there are two ways in which what a person will do can deviate from what a person should do.
The first source of deviation from what a person should do is caused by a lack of good desires or the presence of bad desires. If an agent does not have good desires, then there are circumstances in which he will not act the way that a good agent will act. That is to say, there are circumstances in which the action that will fulfill the most and strongest desires of the agent will not fulfill the most and the strongest desires of a hypothetical agent that has good malleable desires and no bad malleable desires.
The second source of deviation springs from false beliefs. A person who believes that there is a God that declares that homosexual acts have negative value and that people should condemn or even punish those who engage in those acts treat others unjustly on the basis of false beliefs.
It is still the case that there is something wrong with their desires. A person is blameworthy with respect for false beliefs when a person with good desires would have gone to the effort to make sure that beliefs arguing for doing harm to others would have sought a more secure foundation for those beliefs.