Utilitarianism and morality. What are the arguments supporting the utilitarian perspective to morality? 2019-01-10

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SparkNotes: Utilitarianism: Summary

utilitarianism and morality

Justice involves duties that are perfect duties—that is, duties that are correlated with rights V 15. Each choice would have consequences and, according to utilitarianism, you are morally obligated to do one or the other depending on which option maximized utility. But if we interpret the harm principle this way, then Mill is even further from a libertarian view, at least if libertarianism is understood as the idea that the only legitimate limit on individual liberty is to prevent that individual from acting in ways that harm others. If my own happiness lies in something else, why may I not give that the preference? A different and better reply would not suspend the operation of the harm principle in such cases but rather claim that such losses should not be understood as harms, in the relevant sense. Mill then introduces justice as a proper part of duty. What is a nonmoral good? First, he thinks that democracy plays an important epistemic role in identifying the common good.


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Ethics Theories: Utilitarianism Vs. Deontological Ethics

utilitarianism and morality

This seems the real turning point of the distinction between morality and simple expediency. Within this framework established for equal opportunity, Mill defends additional governmental functions designed to promote the common good. The old threat to liberty is found in traditional societies in which there is rule by one a monarchy or a few an aristocracy. However, they should periodically step back and review, as best they can, whether the principle continues to satisfy conditions 1 and 2. Either we can shut down the system and punish no one, or we can maintain the system even though we know that it will result in some innocent people being unjustly punished in ways that they do not deserve. However, scientific studies show that money only brings happiness in the short term, and that it works better for some people than others.


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Utilitarianism and the Moral Life

utilitarianism and morality

Of course it is the case that the truth ought not be misused, that its misuse can be avoided and is not inevitable, but the misuse is entirely predictable. By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words, to promote or oppose that happiness. The equal claim of everybody to happiness in the estimation of the moralist and the legislator involves an equal claim to all the means of happiness …. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. If the torture stopped, the society would go into decline and the general happiness would go with it. The general criterion implies that we should answer this question about the rightness of applying sanctions in sanction-utilitarians terms, namely, by asking whether it would be right to sanction the failure to apply sanctions.


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Fairness, Justice, Morality, Ethics, and Utilitarianism

utilitarianism and morality

See Chapter I: Of the Principle of Utility. Mill, we saw, appears to reject legal moralism categorically I 9. Utilitarianism not only claims that the good is human happiness but goes on to define the right in terms of promoting the good. Moral action should maximize utility. References by book, chapter, and section number. This concern with self-examination and practical deliberation is, of course, a central theme in On Liberty. But on Bentham's view the action or trait is morally good, right, virtuous in view of the consequences it generates, the pleasure or utility it produces, which could be completely independent of what our responses are to the trait.

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Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

utilitarianism and morality

Far from undermining utilitarian first principles, Mill thinks, appeal to the importance of such moral principles actually provides support for utilitarianism. But why should this difference itself affect the pleasurableness of the state in question? Mill anticipates the objection that people desire other things such as virtue. The question that concerns us here is what kind of utilitarian standard Mill endorses. This is what defenders of rule utilitarianism claim. Justice is a name for certain classes of moral rules which concern the essentials of human well-being more nearly, and are therefore of more absolute obligation, than any other rules for the guidance of life; and the notion which we have found to be of the essence of the idea of justice—that of a right residing in an individual—implies and testifies to this more binding obligation. And hence all social inequalities which have ceased to be considered expedient, assume the character not of simple inexpediency, but of injustice. We can begin to see the possibility and the appeal of reading Mill as a kind of perfectionist about happiness, who claims that human happiness consists in the proper exercise of those capacities essential to our nature.

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Utilitarianism and Abortion

utilitarianism and morality

Proponents of utilitarianism have disagreed on a number of points, such as whether actions should be chosen based on their likely results or whether should conform to rules that maximize utility. After all, Mill has just told us that he is a hedonist about happiness. This is really part of a larger criticism of the conception of psychology and human nature underlying Benthamite utilitarianism, which Mill elaborates in his essays on Bentham. People who are convinced by the criticisms of act utilitarianism may decide to reject utilitarianism entirely and adopt a different type of moral theory. In particular, he is interested in liberties of conscience and expressive liberties, liberties of tastes and pursuits, and liberties of association I 12. A third interpretation is that an action might be considered a complex action consisting of several stages and it is the intention that determines which of these stages are to be considered part of the action.


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SparkNotes: Utilitarianism: Chapter 3: Of the Ultimate Sanction of the Principle of Utility

utilitarianism and morality

This is not to deny that my failure to rescue is wrong and perhaps that the law ought to compel aid in such cases. At several points, he likens the status of women inside and outside of marriage to slavery 284—86, 323. In each of these cases then, rule utilitarians can agree with the critics of act utilitarianism that it is wrong for doctors, judges, and promise-makers to do case by case evaluations of whether they should harm their patients, convict and punish innocent people, and break promises. Ray Briggs writes in the : One objection to this interpretation of utility is that there may not be a single good or indeed any good which rationality requires us to seek. Mill dismisses this, saying that such a claim is akin to saying that we can't guide our conduct by Christianity because we can't read the Bible every time we had to act. Of course, it is possible that the traditional sexual division of labor would emerge in a system of equal opportunity.

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Utilitarianism and the Moral Life

utilitarianism and morality

In contemporary discussion it has been divorced from adventitious involvements with the analysis of ethical language and with the psychological theory with which it was presented by Bentham. According to Bauslaugh 2014 , it would be wrong to equate Latimer to a murderer. To be fair to Bentham's critics, of course, they are free to agree with him that this is the case in many situations, just not all — and that there is still a subset of laws that reflect the fact that some actions just are intrinsically wrong regardless of consequences. Moore got this compound exactly right. The baseline must have some independent rationale.

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Utilitarianism and the Moral Life

utilitarianism and morality

Bentham is in the much more difficult position of arguing that effects are all there are to moral evaluation of action and policy. Morality within the Limits of Reason. These two sorts of exception present somewhat different issues. After all, he would have been better off had he not fallen into the pond and drowned. However these questions are resolved, it is doubtful that the harm principle is necessary to justify restrictions on liberty. If higher pleasures are better than lower pleasures, but not because they involve a greater quantity of pleasure, how can this be squared with hedonism? Unfortunately, Mill is not entirely clear about the basis for the free-trade exception.

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Online Guide to Ethics and Moral Philosophy

utilitarianism and morality

However, in his discussion of drunkenness, Mill does at one point allow that offenses against others may be prohibited, at least when they involve acts of public indecency. Ultimately however this all a work of philosophical theory, and a not only that, but a philosophical theory that many have taken issue with. . V 7 The immediate context is otherwise paternalistic restrictions with drink. But notice that if Mill rejects strong sufficiency then this compromises his one very simple principle. According to Perez and Moore 2012 , utilitarianism always puts into consideration the happiness of the majority. But our focus here is on right action or duty.

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