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  1. 1. 4-23 utilitarianism
  2. 2. consequentialism <ul><li>concerned with the results of some action rather than with features intrinsic to the act itself </li></ul><ul><ul><li>is a teleological system in that it is concerned with the ends of an act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sees the ultimate criterion of morality in some nonmoral value that results from some act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>such nonmoral values may be happiness, pleasure, welfare, or ending of suffering </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. utilitarianism <ul><li>is the dominant version of consequentialism </li></ul><ul><li>is a normative system in that it applies universally </li></ul><ul><li>calls for the maximization of goodness in society, the greatest good for the greatest number </li></ul><ul><li>rules have no intrinsic value. rather, they exist only to serve humanity in its attempt to achieve happiness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>example is punishment for crimes. utilitarians do not believe in punishment for the sake of justice or retribution. punishment is only for the purpose of deterrence. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. two main features <ul><li>consequentialist principle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>rightness or wrongness of an act is determined by the goodness or badness of the results that flow from it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the ends justify the means </li></ul></ul><ul><li>utility principle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>only thing that is good in itself is some specific kind of state, e.g. happiness, pleasure, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. normative nature <ul><li>has one absolute principle which applies universally </li></ul><ul><ul><li>maximize utility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>this principle applies in all situations at all times </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>unlike deontological systems, does not rely on some unchanging set of rules. rather, utility is determined by the circumstances of any particular situation </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. material nature <ul><li>utilitarianism is about something other than mere morality. that is, it makes morality a means to a larger end, that of happiness. </li></ul><ul><li>this seems to be an intuition that most people share. it seems to make no sense to have a moral system that exists for no larger purpose, that has no reason to exist other than its own rules. </li></ul>
  7. 7. criticisms of utilitarianism <ul><li>how can we know the consequences of actions? </li></ul><ul><li>at what point should we stop doing the “best” thing, that which maximizes utility? </li></ul><ul><li>utilitarianism leads to absurd implications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>lying and telling the truth are equal when ends are the same </li></ul></ul><ul><li>justice is sacrificed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>utilitarians are willing to sacrifice innocents to maximize utility </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. responses <ul><li>knowing the consequences of actions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>three ways of distinguishing what is right in terms of utility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>an act is absolutely right when it has the best actual consequences </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>an act is objectively right if it can reasonably be expected to have the best consequences </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and act is subjectively right if the agent intends or expects the best consequences </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>most of the focus is on the notion of objectively right </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>we should use the best information at hand and do what can reasonably be expected to have the best results </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>this is commonly referred to as “rule utilitarianism” in that there are general rules that are thought to lead to the best consequences </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. continued <ul><li>no rest objection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>our own happiness is important as well. it turns out that we are the kind of creatures that function well when we are happy. to devote ourselves completely to others’ happiness would make us unhappy, and, if everyone did this, suffering would increase, and utility would be diminished </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. continued <ul><li>absurd implications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>we hold things like telling the truth in high regard because, in general, they maximize utility. therefore, all things being equal, it is best to tell the truth. that preserves a society where truthfulness is expected, and that allows us to cooperate successfully. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>there are times, however, when lying may well serve us best, and we should be aware of this. for it is truth which serves us, not we who serve the truth </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. continued <ul><li>justice objection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>preserving the institution of justice serves to make us happy. it instills confidence in us that we will be judged fairly, and this contributes to the greater good. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>however, it is entirely possible that some situations might arise where the best thing to do is to let an innocent suffer for the good of the many. that’s just the way things are. </li></ul></ul>