2 A Concise Historical Overview Socrates says... click on any philosopher for more informationDavidHume( CE)G.E.Moore( )JeremyBentham( CE)R.M.Hare( CE)John StuartMill( CE )PeterSinger( )
3 Utilitarianism Historical Background The EnlightenmentFrench RevolutionVictorian BritainUtilitariansVoltaireRousseauRejection of metaphysics“Liberty, Fraternity,Equality”SocialReformersSocrates says..click on any philosopher for more information
4 What is utilitarianism? Derives from the latin word `utilis’ meaning useful.A normative, consequential morality.Good is whatever produces beneficial consequences.Utilitarianism has no intrinsic goods (Good irrespective of the consequences)Utilitarianism is instrumental(The results justify the means)Principle of utility
5 The Principle of Utility PleasurePainThe Principle of UtilityThe good is that which will bring about the greatest sum of pleasure, or the least sum of pain, for the greatest number
6 Jeremy BenthamPrinciple of Utility“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do.”An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and LegislationFoundation for the Principle of Utilityis Bentham’s Psychological hedonism:Pleasure and pain determine how people act.
7 Jeremy Bentham: Reductive Empiricist Bentham was a reductive empiricistPrinciple of utility will replace metaphysical beliefsAccording to Bentham talk of abstract `inalienable rights’ was “nonsense on stilts.”Only the principle of utility offers an understanding of rights based on concrete, observable verification
8 Scientific and Ethical Revolution The principle of utility offers an understanding of rights based on concrete, observable verificationScientific and Ethical RevolutionBENTHAMNEWTODARWINNewton’s laws of science explained how the world is governed by universal laws of nature which causally determine action.Bentham reasonedthat ethics was ascience; where `good’ could be scientifically proven according to the principle of utility, felicific calculus.Darwin challenged the fundamentalist, literal, understandingof the Genesis creation story with his scientific theory of evolution, natural selection.
9 All types of pleasure and pain can be measured on the same scale. Pleasures can be compared quantitatively because there is no qualitative difference between themBentham once said that "quantity of pleasure being equal, push-pin [a simple child's game] is as good as poetry".What is good and bad for each person (i.e. what brings them pleasure or pain) is a matter for each person to decide by following the Felicific Calculus
10 Bentham’s Felicific Calculus Pleasure can be `scientifically’ calculated according to thefollowing 7 criteria of the Felicific Calculus1. DURATIONHow long will it last?2. INTENSITYHow intense is it?3. PROPINQUITYHow near or remote?4. EXTENTHow widely it covers5. CERTAINTYHow probable is it?6. PURITYHow free from pain is it?7. FECUNDITYLead to further pleasure?
11 Bentham’s Mnemonic Jingle for his Felicific Calculus A little ditty to remember the Felicific CalculusIntense, long, certain, speedy, fruitful, pure – Such marks in pleasures and in pain endure. Such pleasures seek if private be thy end: If it be public, wide let them extend Such pains avoid, whichever be thy view: If pains must come, let them extend few.
12 Bentham’s Felicific Calculus The Felicific CalculusDemocratic and Egalitarian“Everybody is tocount for one, and nobody for more than one.”“No one person’s pleasure is greaterthan another’s”In keeping with Enlightenment thinking the Felicific Calculus was a rational and scientific way to measure pleasure. Bentham claimed that goodness could be empirically proven.
13 Bentham’s Felicific Calculus When answering an examination question on utilitarianism try and avoid simply listing the felicific calculus – as this only demonstrates knowledge (something which lower grade students can achieve).Rather, select a particular feature of the Felicific calculus, perhaps propinquity, and show how it might be difficult to apply in practice e.g. Is the pleasure near or remote in terms of space (geographically close) or time – may have an impact in years to come.Apply to a national or international example to illustrate further understanding and evaluation: America withdrawing from the Kyoto agreement; Bush claiming “the American way of life is non-negotiable.” Can the felicific calculus overcome such political short-termism?
14 Jeremy Bentham Counter-cultural Pioneer of Social Reform Penal ReformAnimal RightsClick on either of theabove boxes for furtherinformation
16 Appeals to Human Nature Human beings share a common interest in:Benevolence and sympathy (David Hume)Pleasure and Happiness (Bentham and Mill)(3) Pleasure, Friendship, Aesthetic Appreciation (G.E. Moore)(4) People’s Welfare (R.M. Hare)(5) People’s Preferences (Peter Singer)G.E. MooreDavid HumeJeremy BenthamR.M. HarePeter SingerJ.S. Mill
17 Utilitarianism: Fair, Objective and Democratic Bentham’s felicific calculus claims that: “Everybody is to count for one, and nobody for more than one. No one person’s pleasure is greater than another’s.”In a radical way utilitarianism challenges elitism and an aristocratic system that offers privilege to the select few at the expense of the majority. e.g. French Revolution: `Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.’In the spirit of Marxism democracy is giving the proletariat rewards for their labour and power to determine their future.
18 Appropriate Ethic for a Secular and Scientific Age In a Post Enlightenment world, with the challenge to metaphysical and theistic foundations, utilitarianism has a high regard for individual autonomy.Hume VoltaireAlthough the felicific calculus was not the resounding success that Bentham may have wished, the importance of the quality of people’s lives, here and now, is something which governments take seriously.Peter Singer’sPreference Utilitarianism recognises the importance of respecting people’s desires and inclinations when assessing moral dilemmas.
19 Quality of Human Life or Sanctity of Human Life? Peter Singer Pope John Paul IIPersonhoodSentienceRationalSelf-consciousCommunicateEstablishRelationshipsPreferenceUtilitarianismreplaces sanctityof human lifewith the criteriafor personhoodDue to advancesin scientific technologyit is possible tomaintain life evenwhen it is of lowquality e.g. life supportMachines, MotorNeurone DiseaseIn a world of limited resources is itmore sensible to respect a patient’s wishto die, voluntary euthanasia? (And so reduceneedless suffering and equally redistribute funds otherwisespent keeping a terminally ill patient alive with a low quality of life.)
20 Utilitarianism Suitable for Government Bentham and Mill’s politicalreforms had significantimpacts on public policye.g. Penal reform, GreaterEquality for women,Animal RightsJeremy BenthamJ.S. MillGovernment policy has an interest in promoting the quality of life for its electorate e.g Education, Health care, Law and order.Tony Blair
21 Utilitarianism has Some Common Ground With Christian Ethics Bentham’s Principle of Utility has been compared to Jesus’ Golden Rule, “Love your neighbour as yourself” or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”The rationale behind Christian teaching of redemption may be understood in a utilitarian manner: the vicarious suffering by Jesus on the cross to redeem humanity is self-sacrificial for the greater good of the greater number.Utilitarianism upholds the message of a benevolent God showing interest for the well-being of human beings; but rejects belief in a metaphysical God!
23 Problem of Utilitarianism: Commits the Naturalistic Fallacy “Cannot deduce an OUGHT from an IS” (G.E. Moore)Cannot move from FACT to VALUESCannot move from EPISTEMOLOGY (knowledge) to ETHICS(G.E. Moore, Principia Ethica)
24 Problem of Utilitarianism: Commits the Naturalistic Fallacy From the mere statement of psychological fact that people actually desire happiness for its own sakeone cannot deduce the evaluative conclusion that pleasure is desirable, i.e. that it ought to be desired.People may desire something that they ought not to desire, something which is not really desirable.e.g People may desire to take hard drugs as it produces pleasure. But is taking hard drugs good?
25 The Felicific Calculus Is Too Impractical When making decisions in the heat of the moment, lacking reflection, it is not practical to apply the felicific calculus to moral dilemmas.Adding up `pleasure units’ is a dubious exercise and is difficult to measure accurately.The whole idea of assessing different varieties and intensities of pleasures is too subjective.
26 The Felicific Calculus Too Impractical? J.S. Mill’s response J.S. Mill argued that instead of the felicific calculus people should come up with general principles which over the passage of time have promoted the greatest happiness.By following such principles and rules individual judgements are supported by past events and so are less pressurised and less subjective in their moral judgements.This development is a major reason why some have labelled Mill a `rule`utilitarian – as he advocated following such rules as opposed to continually using the felicific calculus or even his own Greatest Happiness Principle.
27 Principle Of Utility May Undermine Freedom In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World a utopian society is projected where people are genetically engineered with differing levels of IQ: Alphas to Epsilons (A-E)RecentInternational ExampleIn 1989 the Chinese government suppressed the student uprising in Tiananmen Square, claiming the State, not the educated students, knew what was in people’s best interest. Giving students freedom to determine their future was not deemed acceptable.Citizens receive state indoctrination and soma drugs to promote a feeling of happiness.However, the price of this inauthentic happiness is the encroachment upon personal freedom.
28 “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy” (John, The Savage, Brave New World) Aldous HuxleyIt is helpful toillustrateanswers withexamples fromliterature.In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, John, the Savage, rejects a life of artificial drug (soma) induced happiness.When questioned by the Controller John asserts his right to be unhappy. John understands that a life of depth and meaning is one which embraces and learns from hardship and sorrow.Equally important is lateral thinking, here with John Hick’s theodicy. Hick asserts that`Virtues arebetter hardwon thanready made’.A life which pursues a drug induced happiness is one which misses the richness that comes from experiencing pain and sacrifice.
29 Living in a Fool’s Paradise Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Illych is a story of how many people live a life of deception – fooling themselves into believing that their lives are happy by finding meaning in superficial pleasures.Yet on his death-bed Ivan Illych, a once wealthy lawyer who is struck down by a terminal illness, realises people only really liked him for the material benefits he was able to offer them. He realises that he has lived a life where superficial pleasures fooled him into thinking he was happy, when in fact his life lacked depth & meaning.A life filled with the instant gratification of the latest designer label is not a life of fufilment.
30 Utilitarian’s Universal Altruism Lacks Justification Each person desires his / her own happiness.?Therefore each person ought to aim for his or her own happiness.This jump fromEgotisticalHedonism toinclude thewelfare of otherslacks support.Therefore everyone ought to aim at the happiness of everyone
31 Society is a collection of Egoism to AltruismSentiment of SympathyPhilosopherBut Problem!People areToo egotisticalInnate within human beings is an elementary feeling for the happiness of humanity and a dislike of seeing them in misery.Marx argues that in aCapitalist society thecompetition for limitedresources means thebourgeois willseek to exploit theproletariat.David HumeEconomic growth should be pursued as a means of bettering conditions for all. Smith claimed even economic inequality caused greater wealth for all.Soon after beingelected PresidentGeorge Bush withdrewAmerica from the Kyotoagreement, claiming“The American way oflife is non-negotiable.”Adam SmithSociety is a collection ofindividuals who work together for the common good.
32 People Are Separate And Unique Professor Simon Blackburn has argued that “Utilitarianism does not take seriously the separateness of persons – the idea being that it subordinates the rights of the individual to solidarity with the general welfare.” (Being Good, p.92)e.g. In World War II the right of the pacifist Methodist minister, Lord Donald Soper, to speak out against the war was denied as it was thought his words would undermine the war effort and was detrimental to the general welfare of the country.
33 Will of the Majority Does Not Always Make for Good Law Analysis / Evaluation / Implications / Analysis / Evaluation / ImplicationStrange as it may seem the will of the majority does not always make for good law.For example, the majority of the UK public are in favour of legalising voluntary euthanasia. (2001: 82% Opinion Poll)There is a danger that people follow their desires and inclinations as opposed to thinking through the implications of their decisions. e.g. How might the ethos of society change, affecting weak and vulnerable people, such as the elderly?
34 Will of the Majority Does Not Always Make for Good Law Analysis / Evaluation / Implications / Analysis / Evaluation / ImplicationInterestingly Mill was all too aware of this criticism ofBentham’s utilitarianism.In On Liberty Mill drew an important distinction between public and private acts.He famously remarked, “Your freedom to punch me ends where my nose begins.”Any law which has a serious detrimental effect on the qualitative well being of others is wrong.
35 Not simply the amount of pleasure produced But how that pleasure is distributed Unlike Bentham, W.D. Ross was concernedthat utilitarianism could ignore justice.Justice is not concerned simply with theamount of pleasure produced.But, rather how and on what basisthat pleasure is distributed.Do people or groupsdeserve to receive pleasure?BenthamW.D. Ross
36 Utilitarianism: Counter-intuitive As an intuitionist W.D. Ross rejectedutilitarianism on the grounds that itignores intrinsic goods that are counter,or contrary, to our intuitive, innate, sense of right and wrong.Even if it could be shown that happinesswas greatest by lying to people thereis something simply wrong aboutlying and deception which wouldmake people wish to reject such an ethic.W.D. Ross
37 Utilitarianism: Lack of Intrinsic Goods Utilitarianism is a consequential morality and so lacks intrinsic goods, such as trust, honesty and dignity. This creates an ethos of uncertainty where people are never really sure if they are valued.e.gYUPPIES (Young Urban Professional People)In the early 1980s many middle-aged businessmen, who had shown great loyalty accruing high profits for their companies were sacked over-night; to be replaced by YUPPIES. YUPPIES were considered to be of greater immediate use to the company, being younger and so cheaper in the short run.
38 Utilitarianism requires a non-utilitarian framework in order to work Professor Alasdair MacIntyre argues that utilitarianism is effective as an ethical theory only when it operates within a non-utilitarian framework, where intrinsic, deontological values enable people to flourish.e.g. Happiness may be promoted in a society that upholds intrinsic values of justice, liberty and honesty.Alasdair MacIntyre
39 Application of Utilitarianism To Moral Issues Case StudiesApplication of UtilitarianismTo Moral Issues
40 Should I.V.F Be Used To Help Infertile Couples? The Roman Catholic church condemns the use of I.V.F as being contrary to the sanctity of human life principle and teaching of natural law.Lord Robert Winston and Baroness Warnock support the use of I.V.F. to relieve the suffering of infertile couples.What would a classical utilitarian think? Give reasons for your view.Paul VILord WinstonJohn Paul IIBaronessWarnock
41 The Survival Lottery (by Professor John Harris) 1461227223Patients Y and Z will die unless they receive organ transplants – in which case they will live for a further 20 years.There is a lack of donor organs.Faced with the prospect of imminent death patients Y and Z propose a `National Survival Lottery’ – where each week a person’s number will be pulled out at random, killed, and their organs donated to help those in need of a transplant – thereby saving a greater number of lives.Explain a utilitarian response to the suggestion of a National Survival Lottery.Professor John Harris
42 The Survival Lottery Some further points to consider… 1461227223Is there a difference between killing and letting die? (Patients Y and Z do not think so!)Is one’s individuality undermined?Would the ‘National Survival Lottery’ create a climate of fear, or would people become accustomed to the unlikely probability?What about those who have brought their illness upon themselves, e.g through heavy smoking, should they benefit equally?How would a sub-class of people be protected from not being victimised?Can society take away the intrinsic right to life? Where does its authority lie?ProfessorJohn Harris
43 Legalise Voluntary Euthanasia? Public Opinion Polls in the UK show that the majority of people would like to see voluntary euthanasia legalised. e.g. 82% 2001.The UK is an increasingly secular society where the Quality of Life is considered to be more important than the sanctity of human life.20% of patients in Intensive Care Units are being treated with no likelihood of survival.Would a utilitarian agree with the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia?
44 Legalise Voluntary Euthanasia? Some further points to consider… Would voluntary euthanasia undermine the role of the doctor? (cf. the Hippocratic oath, the medical duty to preserve innocent human life.)Is the current law of `the principle of double effect’ satisfactory in a secular society?Consequences of restrictive laws? Will people pursue a policy of illegal euthanasia?Would legalising voluntary euthanasia pressurise vulnerable members of society? (The Church of England’s concern, On Dying Well 1993)Is voluntary euthanasia a private, or a public, act? (How does it differ from suicide?)HippocratesPius XIIKevorkianWilliamsJ.S. Mill
46 David Hume was an empiricist, who rejected the authority of the church and those pertaining to metaphysical foundations, “Take in hand anyvolume of divinity or school of metaphysics…and let us ask: Does itcontain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No.Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of factand existence? No. Commit it then to the flames for it can containnothing but sophistry and illusion.”Rather, Hume thought that morality was foundedupon emotions, and in particular feelings ofsympathy with fellow human beings. This is whatHume means by the term passion, when he says,“Reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions.”Utilitarianism develops Hume’s empiricalapproach, rejecting God as the author of morality, and expands the notion of sympathy to include the `Greatest pleasure / happiness for the greatest number.’David Hume ( CE)
47 Jeremy Bentham A Hedonistic Utilitarian A radical empiricist Psychological HedonismPrinciple of UtilityFelicific CalculusMorality: could be scientifically provenPioneer of social reformJeremy Bentham( CE)
48 John Stuart Mill A Eudaimonistic Utilitarian A Weak Rule utilitarian Advocated classical liberalismGreatest Happiness PrincipleQuality, not QuantityHappiness, not pleasurePioneer of social reformJohn Stuart Mill( CE )
49 An Intuitionist or an Ideal Utilitarian? G.E. Moore is famous for his analysis of ethical language in Principia Ethica, 1903, where he famously asserted that: Good is a non-definable property. This led to Moore being labelled an intuitionist, as “We know what`yellow’ is, and can recognise it whenever it is seen, but we cannot actually define it. In the same way we know what `good’ means but cannot define it.” (Ethica, 1903)However, closer analysis reveals that, “it seems selfevident that our duty is to do what will produce the best effects upon the whole, no matter how bad the effectsupon ourselves may be and no matter how good we ourselves may lose by it.” (Ethica, p.143)As an Ideal utilitarian Moore suggests that there arethree intrinsic goods: Pleasure, Friendship, Aestheticappreciation – and so right actions are those which increase / promotes these in the world for the most people.G.E. Moore( )
50 R.M. Hare: Welfare Utilitarian It is significant that the experiences from being a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II influenced R.M. Hare’s moral philosophy.Peoples desires and needs for satisfaction are important.It is possible to intuit what will promote people’s well being.A whole life perspective should be adopted when making moral judgements.Principles of integrity and justice are important as they promote welfare.Critical reflection is important to assess the changing needs of human welfare.R.M. Hare
51 Peter Singer’s Moral Philosophy: Four Simple Claims? 1. Pain is bad.2. Most non-human animals feel pain.3. When taking life we should look not at race, sex or species but at other ethically relevant characteristics of the individual being killed.4. We are responsible not only for what we do but also for what we could have prevented.Analysis / Evaluation / Implications / Analysis / Evaluation / ImplicationThe above may sound simple and appealing. But, think how Singer’s philosophy would change your life?!
53 The 5 Old and 5 New Commandments Analysis / Evaluation / Implications / Analysis / Evaluation / Implication1. Treat all human life as if it is of equal worth.2. Never intentionally take innocent life.3. Never take your own life and try to prevent others from taking theirs4. Be fruitful and multiply5. Treat all human life as always more precious than any non-human life.1. Recognise that all worth of life varies.2. Take responsibility for the consequences of our decisions.3. Respect a person’s desire to live or die.4. Bring children into the world only if they are wanted.5. Do not discriminate on the basis of species.
54 Personhood Ethically Relevant Characteristics The criteria for personhood should replace the sanctity of human lifeRationalSelf-conscious(Biographical as opposed to merely biological)SentientAct intentionallyCommunicateEstablish relationshipsPeter Singer
55 Philosopher Contribution Hu Be Mi Wa Ha Peter Singer’s Application (Periodic Table)Peter Singer’sApplicationContribution“Reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions.”EmpiricistSympathy (feeling) fostersidea of others, ExpandingCircle. Rejection of theism.HuSentience applies to animals so they have interests and are ethically significant.“The question is: not canit reason, can it talk, butcan it suffer.” (Bentham)BeMaldistribution of wealth!Superficial pleasures do not outweigh 3rd world sufferingQualitative differencesbetween pleasures / pain.MiVindication of the Rightsof Women 1792 –oppressed group of societySinger is counter-cultural:Animal Liberation – globalpioneer of animal rightsWaEthical self-interestrequires universalization,promotes welfare for all.Individuals find meaning in their lives when they focus on others / larger goalsHa
56 The Enlightenment18th centuryVoltaire Leibniz Newton HumeThe Enlightenment is known as The Age of Reason and was a time when great optimism was expressed in humanity’s intellectual powers.Rejected theological dogma, with its emphasis on faith and ecclesiastical authority. Placed reason, empiricism and human autonomy over and above metaphysical belief and God..TheEnlightenmentUtilitarians rejected God as the author of morality, as empirically God’s existence could not be proven, and replaced the authority of the Bible as the source of morality with the principle of utility - as no one could doubt the reality of pleasure and pain.
57 The French Revolution1789 CEThe political structure of France, where the wealthy noble-people lorded it over the majority of the poor peasants, came to an abrupt end; many of the landed gentry losing their lives at the guillotine.In 1789 the battle-cry of the French revolution was Rousseau’s “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” reflected the challenge by the masses against the elite aristocracy.The FrenchRevolutionSentiments of sympathy for the well being and happiness of others became a central aim of ethics throughout Europe.Jean Jacques Rousseau and David Humeadvocated sympathy and benevolence.
58 England in the 1800s was a class-riddled society. Victorian BritainEngland in the 1800s was a class-riddled society.Charles Dickens, in his novel Hard Times, highlights enforced debtors prisons, exploitation of child labour and the subjugation of women.BenthamWollstonecraftThe pioneers of utilitarianism, Bentham, Wollstoncraft and Mill, campaigned for social change – promoting structures which would enable the majority of people to live fulfilled and happy lives. e.g. Penal and Electoral Reform.J.S. Mill
59 Penal Reform e.g. abolition of debtors prisons. Analysis / Evaluation / Implications / Analysis / Evaluation / Implicatione.g. abolition of debtors prisons.Bentham campaigned for thereform of the Penal System, based onPsychological Hedonism(People respond to pleasure/pain)Punishment should be sufficient to deter others from offendingbut punishment should not cause unnecessary suffering.
60 Edward Chadwick “Man seeks pleasure and flees pain.” The New Poor Law 1834In examinations it is helpful to offer a brief example of how Bentham’s utilitarianism changed British law.Bentham’s felicific calculus was the philosophy behind the Whig government’s Social Reform of the New Poor Law.Edward Chadwick “Man seeks pleasure and flees pain.”The New Poor Law (1834) stated that life inside the workhouse must be less eligible (pleasant) than life as an independent labourer. Further, no able bodied man should be able to get relief outside the workhouse.“Bentham was the father of British innovation both in doctrines and in institutions.” (JS Mill)
61 Bentham: Animal Welfare “The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been with-holden them but by the hand of tyranny.”“The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day be recognised that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate.”“The question is not `Can they reason?’ `Can they talk?’ But `Can they suffer?’”
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