Philosophy 2070E Lecture Notes - Rule Utilitarianism, Unapologetic

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9 Nov 2011
EMP Chapter 8
The Debate over Utilitarianism
Classic Version of Utilitarianism (Mills)
a) Actions are to be judged right or wrong solely by the virtue of
their consequences
b) In assessing consequences, the only thing that matters is the
amount of happiness or unhappiness that is created
c) Each persons happiness counts the same.
Right actions are those that produce the greatest balance of happiness
over unhappiness, with each persons happiness counted the same
Hedonism- pleasure is the ultimate good and pain is the ultimate evil.
Flaws in this theory
-Someone who you think is your friend is ridiculing you behind your
back. You never know but so you never feel pain, but you are still
being made a fool of and you suffer no unhappiness
-a promising guitar players hands are injured in a car accident and he
can no longer play. Hedonists would say this is bad because it causes
pain and eliminates his source for joy. But suppose he finds just as
much enjoyment in something else, like watching tv. Is the accident
now a tragedy? Hedonists would say that frustration is only caused
when the guitar player thinks of what could have been. But this doesn’t
really eliminate the tragedy by simply getting him to cheer up.
We value all sorts of things such as creativity and friendship for their
own sakes. It makes us happy to have them but that is not the reason
we value them. It seems like a misfortune to lose them, even if there is
no loss of happiness
Moore argues that there are three obviously intrinsic goods- pleasure,
friendship, and aesthetic enjoyment- so right actions are those that
increase the worlds supply of these things.
Others say that we should maximize the satisfaction of people’s
Are Consequences all that matter?
We should look at what will happen as a result of doing our actions. If
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