PHLA11H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Henry Sidgwick, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham

23 views2 pages
Published on 12 Apr 2013
School
UTSC
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHLA11H3
Professor
Page:
of 2
PHLA11 WEEK 2 LECTURE 3
1
Unit 1: Moral Theories
-moral theories: attempt to explain, at the most fundamental and general level, what differentiates
right actions from wrong actions
-obligatory acts are acts that you have an obligation to perform, that are morally required and you
morally ought to perform
-permissible acts are morally acceptable, allowed and permitted
-impermissible or wrong are acts that you are not morally acceptable
-obligatory acts are a kind of permissible action, it is more than permission you have to do it and
you are wrong if you do not do it, it is required
Utilitarianism
-Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick
-the Greatest Happiness Principle: an act is right if and only if it brings about the greatest total
amount of happinessor utilityout of all the actions available to the agent
-happiness is “intended pleasure, and the absence of pain”
-two parts: 1) consequentialism, 2) hedonism
Consequentialism
- the rightness or wrongness of an act depends on its consequences, on what it produces and
doesn’t depend on the act itself
-an act is right if and only if it produces the best consequences out of all the acts available to the
agent
-if and only if the total good produces minus the total bad produced is no lower than it would be
for any other action available”
-have to look at the consequences of everyone involved, not just an individual
Hedonism
-a theory of the good, how to think about the goodness of consequences and to weigh them against
them
-the goodness is determined by how much happiness is produced where “by happiness is intended
pleasure and the absence of pain;” “pleasure, and the freedom from pain, are the only things
desirable as end”
Utilitarianism
-the right is one that brings about the best consequences where consequences count as best when
they produce the greatest total amount of happiness or utility
-two important features: 1) universality and impartiality
-universality: everyone’s happiness matters, utilitarianism takes into account all of those who will
or might be affected by our actions
-impartiality: everyone’s happiness matters in the same way, it doesn’t matter who is experiencing
the pleasure or pain
-utility = the sum of all the pleasure it produces to everybody affected all the pain it produces;
hedon is a unit of pleasure and a dolor is unit of pain
-if two actions have are tied in utility, are equally good, neither of which is obligatory, then either
are permissible actions
-it is not always wrong to perform an act that produces more pain than pleasure overall because
there could be no act available to the agent that produces more pleasure than pain, all options
could produce more pain than pleasure and the less painful (but not pleasurable act) would right
to perform
Objections to Utilitarianism
Objection 1: A Doctrine Worthy of Swine
-an objection to the utilitarianism’s hedonistic conception of the good
-this portrays humans as only being concerned with pleasure and pain and this seems to be what
swines are compared with
-but Mill replies its not me but you who is representing human nature in a bad light because you
are saying humans are not capable of any greater pleasures that a swine is capable of, “the
accusation supposes human beings to be capable of no pleasure except those of which swine are
capable”
-distinguishes between higher pleasures and lower pleasures, higher pleasures are the intellectual
pleasure, pleasures of the imagination and creativity and aesthetic pleasures while lower
pleasures are bodily pleasures such as good, relaxation and sex
-Bentham’s idea was that hedons are assigned based on duration (how long the experience lasts)
and intensity (how intense the pleasure is) and that gives the total number of hedons but Mill
differs here and says that quantity of pleasure is not all, but quality of pleasure must be also
factored in
-“it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied
than a fool satisfied”

Document Summary

Moral theories: attempt to explain, at the most fundamental and general level, what differentiates right actions from wrong actions. Obligatory acts are acts that you have an obligation to perform, that are morally required and you morally ought to perform. Permissible acts are morally acceptable, allowed and permitted. Impermissible or wrong are acts that you are not morally acceptable. Obligatory acts are a kind of permissible action, it is more than permission you have to do it and you are wrong if you do not do it, it is required. Jeremy bentham, john stuart mill and henry sidgwick. The greatest happiness principle: an act is right if and only if it brings about the greatest total amount of happiness or utility out of all the actions available to the agent. Happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain .