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Political Science
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Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

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Justifying the State: Utilitarianism and Principle of Fairness 9/26/2013 1:46:00 PM UTILITARIANISM  distinction between the good and the right  the right action is the one that maximizes utility  utility = happiness, well-being  Jeremy Bentham (Father of utilitarianism)  tried to reform laws across the world in the name of maximizing happiness  “the right thing to do is the thing which maximizes happiness”  political obligation: obey the law if and only if doing so will produce greater happiness than disobeying it Three Parts 1. Theory of Good (happiness)  what makes right actions right?  what is worth pursuing for its own sake? 2. Commitment to Equal Concern  “everyone counts for one and no one counts for more than one” 3. Requirement of Maximization  do whatever produces the most happiness Pro-Utilitarianism  people value human happiness  impartial concern  everyone is equal; ensure everyone gets their fair share  consequentialism  only consequences matter, as long as it maximizes happiness Con-Utilitarianism  The Experience Machine (Mill)  if there was a machine that could give you any experience you want, would you plug into the machine?  happiness is not the only thing that matters o none of the experiences would be real o earning experiences gives them more value  other accounts of welfare  satisfaction— getting what you want o not always true, we think winning the lottery would make us really happy but empirically it seems that this isn‟t so  informed desire satisfaction, but we‟re never fully informed Indirect Utilitarianism  political obligation to obey the law only if it produces more happiness is a law-breaker‟s charter  take indirect utilitarianism approach: don‟t justi
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