Utilitarianism

All you need to know about utilitarianism.

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  • Utilitarianism
    • What is it?
      • consequentialist
        • cannot  accurately predict consequences
      • hedonistic
      • utopian
        • response to the Industrial Revolution
          • rampant suffering + poverty
          • no support for individuals who could not support themselves
        • seeks to create a better society
      • radical
        • post-Enlightenment
        • appealing to non-religious people
      • egalitarian
        • all people's pleasure counts the same
      • instrumental goods
        • no absolutist rules - completely situational
          • avoids the misery of deontological ethics
            • consequentialist
              • cannot  accurately predict consequences
    • Bentham
      • Principle of utility
        • do the action which brings about the greatest sum of pleasure and the least sum of pain
      • The hedonic calculus
        • a calculus for pleasure calculation
          • pleasure is quantitative
            • not qualitative at all
              • "Quantity of pleasure being equal, push-pin is equal to poetry."
        • measured in hedons
        • Seven criteria
          • Fecundity
          • Purity
          • Extent
          • Intensity
          • Certainty
          • Propinquity
          • Duration
      • "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters: pain and pleasure."
        • hedonistic
    • Mill
      • response to problems with Bentham's utilitarianism
        • sadistic guards
          • If many guards at a prison delight in harming prisoners, utilitarianism states they may do so
        • pleasure is subjective
      • Higher and lower pleasures
        • Higher pleasures
          • Intellectual
            • Theatre, poetry
            • "There is pleasure to be had in a clear conscience."
        • Lower pleasures
          • Physical
            • Sport, sex
        • often diffivult to distinguish between the two
        • adds another quality to desire - worth - and thus is a movement away from pleasure being the sole good
          • qualitative judgement - hedonic calculus made useless
      • A human who has experienced both will choose higher pleasures as humans are competent judges
        • "It is better to be  a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied."
        • Mill is a culture snob
    • Popper
      • Negative utilitarianism
        • Pain minimisation
    • Singer
      • Preference utilitarianism
        • All things have preference - if only to stay alive
    • Strengths
      • animals are included in the moral kingdom
        • "not, Can they reason?, nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?" - Bentham
      • has practical applications
        • healthcare
          • QALY calculations
        • government
          • policy
    • Weaknesses
      • fails to give an adequate account of justice
        • oppression of minorities
          • H. P. Macloskey's sheriff
            • can arrest any black person
              • denial of human rights
                • Untitled
      • "ignores the separateness of persons" - Rawls
        • individuals only count as part of a utility calculus
      • can cause a loss of moral integrity
        • Bernard Williams - Jim and the Indians
          • Jim is forced to become a killer no matter what
      • can be one thought too many
        • burning house example - who do you save?
          • utilitarianism says the cancer-cure-man
      • Sandel - rights are made hostage to continfency

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