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PHIL 120W Lecture Notes - John Stuart Mill, Nuclear Meltdown

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Sam Black

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September 17th, 2012 Utilitarianism (Cont’d) 1
Bentham “One ought to maximize happiness”
“All pleasures are the same”
o Duration is what matters
Pleasure/happiness vs. Pain/unhappiness
John Stuart Mill (1806) “Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied”
Second utilitarianism guy
Socrates’ life has more value than a pig, even if he has pain. He has done good, making him better than
the pig.
“Pleasures are not the same”
“Reading an intellectual book is greater than watching soap operas all day
“One ought to play chess, not get drunk”
Higher (mental) vs. lower (physical) pleasures
o i.e., engaging your mind by playing chess vs. getting drink
Our lives are qualitatively better than animals or “fools”
How do we know what is best?
Appeal to a panel of “experienced” judges
Older/wiser, gone through all pleasures
Problem = what is considered an “experienced” judge?
Listen to the panel of judges and judge by yourself what is better.
Utilitarianism includes people affected by your actions.
Difficulties of Utilitarianism
How do you know the long-term consequences?:
Example: Iraq/war promotes future peace but what will happen in 10 years?
Example: Nuclear meltdown is a good thing because it promotes safer plants because of upgrades after
the meltdown. But what will happen 50 years after the meltdown? What if people are mutants?
The extent of those affected:
How do we take into account EVERYONE?
The desires of future generations won’t be the same.
What about animals’ desires?
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