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PP 110 - utilitarianism.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Ashwani Peetush

Normative Ethics  We do not ask whether a claim is subjective  We take for granted that ethics is a legitimate form of discourse for human beings o What makes a claim right or wrong?  The consequences of a particular act determines its value (right/wrong) Consequentialism (Utilitarianism)  Consequences of an action determines whether an action is right or wrong o Ethical egoism is a form of consequentialism for the individual  The right thing to do is that which has the best consequences for the individual Utilitarianism (morality as consequences)  What makes X good?? o X is good if and only if X produces the greatest good for the greatest number o One of the most demanding ethical theories because: o Because: it asks one to maximize the good for everyone (everyone counts as one)  Everyone is equal and no less than the other person  Our own desires matters exactly the same for anyone else (no privilege)  Opposite of ethical egoism  Takes equality as basic – we are one of many  Nothing else counts except for consequences o Asks us to do the most we can do  What is a good consequence? (what is the good?) o Bentham: the good that creates the most pleasure  Since pain and pleasure is important to humans, it is used to judge  Pain (bad consequences) vs. pleasure ( good consequences)  Hedone: a form of hedonistic utilitarianism  Question: is pleasure the only variable used to measure for good? Is pleasure equivalent to good? Or is pleasure just a form of good?  Rejection: Nozick’s Experience Machine  Needs are taken care of – produces the effect ideal world (alternate world is like reality)  Ex. climbing Mount Everest o Instead of preparing for the climb, you plug yourself into the machine and you feel the experience of climbing  Argues: do most people want to be connected to this machine for a prolong period of time? NO. o If pain and pleasure were the only things we desired in life then we would all want to be plugged into the experience machine  A –> B o But, we (most) would not want to be plugged into the machine o Therefore, pain (avoidance of) and pleasure are not the only things we desire in life o *people may not want to be plugged to this machine because it is not simply getting the desire, but having gone through and worked hard to achieve it  Although it may not always be pleasurable (can be tough), it is the process that matters  His argument is a type of Modus Tollens o Modus Tollens  A –> B: If A, then B  ~B: Not B  .∙. ~A: Therefore not A  The avoidance of pain and gain in pleasure is not the only goal of life o Objection against hedonistic utilitarianism – because according to that theory, the good is measured by how pleasurable it is o NOT an objection against utilitarianism (in general) – because it does not talk about producing the greatest good for the greatest number being wrong  John Stuart Mills (Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism)  Said: “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.” o Means: ignorance is not bliss – knowledge gives us a refined view of the world (see a wide range), whereas pigs do not understand (it can only feel pleasure or pain) o There is a difference between higher state (i.e. human animals) and lower states (i.e. non-human animals)  States: pleasure and happiness, etc.  Pleasure: coming from the senses, immediate moment (ex. smoking, alcohol, drugs, etc.)  Happiness: for the internal well being  There is a difference between quantity and quality (ex. categorizes pleasures into its own higher and lower state)  Objections o Assumes that the onl
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