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Philosophy 2074F/G

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Utilitarianism 4/13/2012 10:57:00 AM Utilitarianism  A consequentialist theory – it cares about the consequences of actions and not their motivations  The basic utilitarian position – an action or practice is right if it leads to the best possible balance of good consequences over bad consequences for all the parties affected  Act utilitarianism – one ought to perform the act that results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people and that rules might be good in general, but they should not be followed all the time  Rule utilitarianism – rules are not expendable depending upon the circumstance, compromising moral rules lessens the effectiveness of rules Essential Features of Utilitarianism  One should maximize utility and minimize negative utility  A theory of the nature of utility and negative utility o Hedonistic utilitarian – one who believes that utility is pleasure and negative utility is pain o Pluralistic utilitarian – one who believes that there are a number of positive and negative utilities o Desire-fulfillment utilitarian – one who believes that utility is the satisfaction of the desires of individuals and negative utility is the frustration of these desires  A theory of measuring and comparing utility and negative utility o Jeremy Bentham attempted to produce a hedonic calculus that would measure happiness and pain o Mill did not believe that all pleasures were equal, he believed that pleasures of the mind are superior to base pleasures o Some contemporary utilitarian theorists attempt to derive the worth of different pursuits by the action of consumer choice Objections to Utilitarianism  Units of utility cannot me measured or are extremely difficult to measure o This is a pseudoproblem – people do make judgments of relative worth all the time  Utilitarianism ignores non-utilitarian factors that influence moral judgments like justice and the tyranny of the majority o Defenders of rule utilitarianism sometimes attempt to include justice into the criteria for a ruleKantianism
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