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Lecture 8

PHIL101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Epicurus, John Stuart Mill, Fecundity

Philosophy at St Joseph's College
Course Code
Marie- Eve Morin

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October 2, 2017 (Monday)
UNIT 2 Doing what’s right
Moral theories
- How do we figure out what is right?
Rightness and wrongness of actions can lie in action itself, the intention/
motivation of the doer, effects on the recipient(s), or combinations of these
Inside the person doing the action
- Is morality “rightness”...?
A perception (like the blueness of the house)
A feeling (like pleasure)
A rational judgement (like the 180o angles of a triangle)
Utilitarianism (Consequentialism)
- Basic form:
X is the good (ie: happiness)
An action Y is right if (of all possible actions) it brings about the most X.
How do we get the most good in the world.
If it maximizes the good
It it has the best consequences possible overall
- Questions
Is the good one thing or many thing?
Actual consequences, or actual and future ones?
Direct consequences or aso indirect ones?
Total net good or average good per person? (The distribution of goodness)
Does everybody count equally or are som worth more than others?
Effects on whom?
- Maximizing the good seems easy, but once we starring asking these questions it
can be very complicated.
Bentham, (1748-1832)
- The GOOD = Happiness = pleasure (or no pain)
- An action y is right
If it maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain
If it maximizes utility
- Utility = “property of a thing, person or action whereby it tends to bring about the
good” (Bentham) (Having good effects on the good)
It it brings about the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
- Focus is on the effect of an action, not on what kind of action it is or why the
agent is performing the action.
-Felicific Calculus (Formula of happiness)
To calculate how much happiness is produced by an action consider:
Duration of the pain or pleasure
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