Introduction The novel A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr., a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, confronts many religious themes. I will give a brief summary of the novel and then elaborate on the theory of preference utilitarianism and the view of Peter Singer. Then, I will, explore the role of ethics in the novel in regards to preference utilitarianism, as held by the theorist Peter Singer. Finally, I will draw implications for the reader from my analysis about ethics.
A Canticle for Leibowitz A Canticle for Leibowitz follows a monastic order in a post-apocalyptic world as it tries to preserve the legacy of human knowledge and history. Miller divides the novel into three parts, titled with the Latin translations of “Let There Be Man”, “Let There Be Light”, and “Let Thy Will Be Done”. Prior to the start of the novel the world suffers an event known as the “Simplification”, in which the majority of the population violently rejects all learning and tries to destroy any…show more content… The basic idea of utilitarianism is that it is our moral duty to maximize pleasure and minimize pain (Gaskill). According to this, whether an action is right or wrong depends entirely on the consequences; an action in itself is not intrinsically good or bad. Singer defines himself as a utilitarian but differentiates between brands of utilitarianism based on whether an organism can conceive of their own future or not. He applies hedonistic utilitarianism for animals who cannot comprehend a future and preference utilitarianism for humans, who can (Varner). In this essay, I will be focusing on Singer’s application of preference utilitarianism, rather than hedonistic. While hedonistic utilitarianism defines morally right actions as those that maximize total pleasure, preference utilitarianism defines them as ones that maximize total preference satisfaction for all involved parties, including desires, plans, and goals