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Consequences- Utilitarianism.docx

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Langara College
PHIL 1100

Consequences- Utilitarianism  Hedonism: the view that pleasure is the only thing truly of value. o Some hedonists emphasize the “higher” pleasures such as intellectual pursuits. o Moral behaviour has to come from our humanistic impulses o Aristippus: only defines pleasures as simple pleasures o Epicurus: was not a pure hedonist o Highest pleasure  intellectual pleasures o Pleasure is the highest good (different ways of understanding this) o Devotion to pleasure is a way of life o We can take this idea of being motivated by pleasure and avoiding pain and use it to inform morality o Psychological: all human actions are motivated by seeking pleasure and/or avoiding pain (sounds like egoism) o Ethical: only pleasure is desirable in itself and all action should be motivated by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain  Psychological hedonism: the view that all human desire is necessarily directed to achieving pleasure and avoiding pain  Ethical hedonism: the moral view that human desire and action ought to be directed to achieving pleasure and avoiding pain  Utilitarianism: the view that we should act to promote the greatest amount of happiness (and create the least amount of suffering possible) for the greatest number of people o Define utility o Happiness/pleasure o Cost/Benefit Analysis o People are naturally sympathetic, concerned with promoting happiness of others o Naturally concerned with the happiness of others o We want others to do well unless we are vindictive o What makes people happy: ‘pleasure’ o What makes people unhappy: ‘pain’ o The way we define these words defines what kind of utilitarian we are o Another way of the ends that justify the means  Consequentialism o Utilitarianism is a type of consequentialism  Action  Means  Ends = Moral o The means themselves may be a bit questionable even though the ends might be good o If the ends are good, the action is still good o Example: stealing a wallet and giving it to the homeless  bad means  Still okay according to utilitarianism o If the end is good, it does not matter (Very different from Kant, polar opposite)  Bentham (1748 – 1832) o Bentham Utilitarianism o Hedonist but takes a different view from Epicurus and Aristippus o The greatest happiness for the greatest number o For each of us to achieve maximum pleasure, it is in our interest to live in a society in which all people have an opportunity to achieve genuine pleasure for themselves o Our self-interest to help people fulfill their own self-interest o Industrial revolution – people worked until they died, class struggles, overt exploitation of humans, etc. o He wanted to come up with an ethical theory that would take into account of the suffering of the poor  Principle of Utility o Act always to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number o Endorses all actions that “tend to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good or happiness  Greatest Happiness Principle o Separates utilitarianism from basic hedonism o Pleasure is the one intrinsic good o GHP: an action is right insofar as it promotes the greatest amount of happiness (pleasure) for the greatest number of sentient beings o Not ethical egoism  takes into account of other people (sentient beings)  maximize your self-interest in relation to everyone else’s o A rational principle to guide moral choices  not just good consequences but the good consequences for the greatest number of people o Do intentions matter? It depends if you violate GHP or not. o Morally right actions produce the best overall consequences o Forces you to think outside yourself and group o You can apply this theory in different kinds of ways o Sole criteria: consequences (can a murderer and robber be moral? Yes, if they change their ways) o Most utilitarianists recognize that your character and intentions do matter in some cases o People with good intentions are most likely t apply GHP o Equal consideration: everyone’s good is equal  Bentham’s Utilitarianism o Equality: a moral ideal o Happiness of X is not < or > happiness of Y o Quantity is more important than quality  Bentham’s Utilitarian Calculus (Hedonistic Calculus) o Intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity, extent  Example o An act is never intrinsically good or bad o Starts from ground zero and goes up o Class gets stranded on a boat in the middle of the ocean, enough room for all of us and another creature o Cranky, insulting, nasty old man vs. Cute happy pu
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