Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

John Stuart Mill Hedonism & Utilitarianism. Mill on value These […] explanations do not affect the theory of life on which [utilitarianism] is grounded.

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "John Stuart Mill Hedonism & Utilitarianism. Mill on value These […] explanations do not affect the theory of life on which [utilitarianism] is grounded."— Presentation transcript:

1 John Stuart Mill Hedonism & Utilitarianism

2 Mill on value These […] explanations do not affect the theory of life on which [utilitarianism] is grounded – namely, that pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends; and that all desirable things (which are as numerous in the utilitarian as in any other scheme) are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain. Mill maintains that the theory of morality is grounded on the theory of life. Mill maintains that the theory of life involves the theory of hedonic value. Mill maintains that pleasure is the only thing of intrinsic value.

3 The problem of the swine The doctrine of hedonism commits us to the view that what humans ultimately seek is pleasure. However, it appears in our lives that we pursue things other than pleasure, and that humans have a more sophisticated capacity for happiness than that of a swine (i.e. pigs). 1. If hedonism is true, then we would all aspire for a life of pleasure –in the sense of the satisfaction of base bodily desires. 2. We don’t all aspire for a life of base bodily desire. 3. So, hedonism is false.

4 Responses to the Problem of the Swine From the fact that hedonism maintains that pleasure is the only thing of value, we cannot conclude that only certain ways of acquiring pleasure are only of value. Hedonism maintains that pleasure is the only thing of value, but it does not maintain that specific things are or are not of value, such as reading a book or drinking beer. Mill distinguishes between the higher and lower pleasures, and maintains that hedonism is not inconsistent with the pursuit of higher pleasures.

5 Higher and Lower Pleasures Lower Pleasures Sex Drugs Alcohol Higher Pleasures Reading Chess Writing Higher pleasures have a higher quality of pleasure Two pleasures A and B are such that A > B in quality of pleasure if and only if everyone that has experienced both A and B judge A to be the more desirable pleasure. Example, drinking and reading both on any given occasion have a certain quantity of pleasure, but reading will always has a higher quality of pleasure because anyone who has done both judges reading to be the superior pleasure.

6 Further Points on Higher and Lower Pleasures According to Mill, no quantity of a lower pleasure can match that of a higher pleasure. Is this true? It is possible that Mill’s test for distinguishing higher and lower pleasures suffers from the following problems: There are no goods such that everyone or almost everyone judges one to be superior to the other. There are hung juries. It is practically impossible for everyone to sample both goods because fundamentally one good is only available to those of a certain socio- economic class. It is possible that some goods can only be understood to be better than other goods from within the context of a given culture.

7 Nozick Experience’s Machine I The hedonist maintains that pleasure is the only thing that is of value. The utilitarian maintains that the right action is that action that maximizes aggregate happiness. Robert Nozick presented a famous challenge to the hedonist component of utilitarianism. The challenge comes by way of a thought experiment, that actually has been part of at least one film, Vanilla Sky.

8 Nozick’s Experience Machine II Imagine there was an experience machine that could tell your every desire and could tell what pleased you most. Were you to enter into the machine you would live the life with the most amount of happiness and never know of your former life in actuality. Would you choose to enter the machine? 1. If hedonism is true, then all that we value is pleasure, and so we ought to choose to enter the machine. 2. Many of us have the intuition that we ought not to enter the machine. 3. So, hedonism cannot be a complete account of what we value

9 Nozick’s Experience Machine III What might be an instance of something we value that is not based in pleasure? Nozick at least acknowledges the following idea: the actuality of having accomplished somethin g. In the machine one only has the experience of accomplishing things, but what we value over and above the pleasure that is experiential, is actually accomplishing things. The experience of pleasure (what the experience machine provides) is not sufficient for ultimate value, because the source of pleasure is also of value (the actuality of gaining pleasure from a genuine accomplishment).

10 Proof that happiness is desirable and a good 1. The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible is that people actually see it. 2. The only proof capable of being given that an object is desirable, is that people actually desire it. 3. People do desire their own happiness. 4. So, happiness is desirable. 5. If something is desirable, then it is good. 6. So, happiness is a good Questions: Does this show that happiness is a good? Does this show that anything that everyone desires is good for them? Are we using the notion of ‘desirable’ in two different senses? One descriptive, the other evaluative.

11 Proof that aggregate happiness is a good for the totality of persons Mill: [W]e not only have all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good: that each person’s happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons. Happiness has made out its title as one of the ends of conduct, and consequently one of the criteria of morality. 1. Happiness is a good. 2. For all x, if x is a person, then x’s happiness is a good for x. 3. Therefore, for the totality of persons P, general happiness is a good for P. Question: Does the inference commit the fallacy of composition?

12 Mill’s Utilitarianism Act utilitarianism: the right action is that action that is available from a set of given actions that maximizes aggregate happiness. Rule utilitarianism: the right action is that action that is available from a set of given actions that conforms to the rules that maximize aggregate happiness. Act and rule utilitarianism are distinct positions. Mill appears to have wavered between and advocated both in his works. So, it is best that one understands both views.

13 Consequentialism vs. Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is best understood as one kind of consequentialist view. In maintaining that utilitarianism is a consequentialist view one is maintaining that what morally matters is the consequences of ones actions. Event A, person x pushes y out of the way of an oncoming car and saves y. Event B, person x pushes y out of the way of an oncoming car and accidentally into another car killing y. Even if the actions are the same, and the intention in both cases was to save, the utilitarian m aintains that Event A is good and Event B is bad since the consequence in A was good and the consequence in B was bad.

14 Consequentialism and Utilitarianism A consequentialist account of ethics has three main components: A principle of value A theory of computation of aggregate value A consequence based principle of right action Utilitarianism is a kind of consequentialism because it has the following three components: Hedonism as a theory of value. Sum-ranking as a theory of computation And either act consequentialism or rule consequentialism

15 Utilitarianism Hedonism as a theory of value: pleasure is the only thing that is of ultimate value. All other instrumental goods are a means to pleasure and pain avoidance. Sum-Ranking as a theory of computation: state of affairs A is better than state of affairs B if and only if the total net value in A is greater than the total net value in B. Act-Consequentialism as a theory of what matters for right action: an act A is the right action from a set S of possible actions if and only if A maximizes aggregate value. Act-Utilitarianism : an action A is the right action from the set {A, B} if and only if the consequences of action A have more net pleasure than the consequences of action B.


Download ppt "John Stuart Mill Hedonism & Utilitarianism. Mill on value These […] explanations do not affect the theory of life on which [utilitarianism] is grounded."

Similar presentations


Ads by Google