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Revision Notes Utilitarianism. General Long history - Epicurus, Caiaphas, Hume, Adam Smith Characterised by Pojman as teleological aspect and utility.

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Presentation on theme: "Revision Notes Utilitarianism. General Long history - Epicurus, Caiaphas, Hume, Adam Smith Characterised by Pojman as teleological aspect and utility."— Presentation transcript:

1 Revision Notes Utilitarianism

2 General Long history - Epicurus, Caiaphas, Hume, Adam Smith Characterised by Pojman as teleological aspect and utility aspect e.g. of punishment

3 Bentham’s Utilitarianism Pleasure and pain 'sovereign masters' Pleasure the only intrinsic good Right actions increase total pleasure

4 Principles Greatest Happiness Principle or Principle of Utility Teleological/consequentialist

5 Application Empirical (Hume) and response to rationalists (Descartes) Hedonistic Calculus: Extent, certainty, duration, nearness, fruitfulness, purity, intensity Applies to Individuals and groups

6 Strengths Simple, commonsensical, scientific, impartial

7 Weaknesses Justice, consequences, comparable pleasures, 'pig philosophy'

8 Mill’s Utilitarianism We seek happiness So we seek the happiness of others So happiness is something we ought to seek for ourselves and others

9 Quality not quantity Competent judges Experience of both 'better to be Socrates dissatisfied'

10 Acts as one of group of acts tendencies known 'some consequences accidental; others are its natural result'

11 Justice everyone counts as one all equal worth

12 Strengths distributive justice, consequences, Socrates satisfied

13 Weaknesses punitive justice, other intrinsic goods, complexity

14 Philosophical problems Naturalistic fallacy (GEMoore); Jump from egoism to altruism (Mackie) but rational benevolence (Sidgwick) and education (Warnock/Mill)

15 Act GHP applied to acts “An act is right and only if it results in as much good as any available alternative” From acts general rules deduced Bentham and Mill?

16 Response But special responsibilities (Brandt)

17 Rule GHP applied to rules “An act is right if and only if it is required by a rule that is itself a member of a set of rules whose acceptance would lead to greater utility for society than any available alternative” From rules acts deduced as wrong Brandt, Smart, Nielsen Mill and 'tendencies'

18 Preference Individuals decide what is pain/pleasure for them Preferences unless outweighed by others e.g. Peter Singer and abortion.

19 General Strengths Simplicity but Mill/Hedonic Calculus Social change and Bentham Purpose of morality (Aristotle/Epicurus/Pojman)

20 General Weaknesses Incommensurate values (number/happiness) but internal debate Immeasurable consequences but Mill and CILewis (actual/expected/intended consequences) No rest; no personal integrity; not for all as difficult to follow (Pojman) Justice but Mill (punitive/distributive) Intuition and intrinsic/instrumental values and absurd implications (WDRoss) Ends and Means (Kant)

21 General responses Split level utilitarianism (general/lower: rule, rare but difficult/higher: act)

22 Overall response Kant and categorical imperative So right on purpose of morality wrong on need for rules and justice Frankena and principles of beneficence and justice Or Ross, objectivism and actual vs.. prima facie duties


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