Utility & Utilitarianism

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  • A good example of utilitarianism is: Say there is a train coming toward a group of 5 people tied to the tracks and you're standing by the lever to make the train go onto a different path that is heading towards yourself. A utilitarian would pull the lever to make the train head in his/her direction. Killing one person creates a greater amount of good than killing 5 people. A large group of people is stuck in a cave because a fat man (no put down intended) is stuck in the only exit of this cave. The only way to free themsleves would to dynamite their way out, therefore sacrificing the fat man. Do they all free themselves at the cost of one life or do they not kill him and all die?This situation is quite similar to the one in the movie "Abandon ship", in which the captain of a sunken ship finds himself in the middle of the ocean with only one rescue raft and twice as many surviving passengers as it can possibly take. Even though many of them manage to stay in the water clinging to the boat, the raft is about to sink... The heart of the matter being that he chooses to keep only the correct amount of passengers -setting the others at large-, so that all the ones on the raft can survive the upcoming storm.
  • President Harry Truman had a difficult decision to make in 1945, near the close of World War II. The Japanese military refused to surrender even though it was quite clear that their defeat was inevitable. Truman's military advisors, however, were estimating that a land invasion of Japan might result in the deaths of as upwards of 1,000,000 American service men and prisoners of war, as well as many thousands of Japanese casualties, both civilian and military. There was another option: drop the atomic bomb on a Japanese city. Estimates of the deaths and injuries for such a drop were high, but not as high as the the estimates for land invasion. Truman, of course, made the choice to drop the bomb, first on Hiroshima, and then, when an offer of surrender did not materialize, a second bomb on Nagasaki. The gamble worked: the Japanese surrendered. But the cost was indeed horrific: two populous Japanese cities destroyed, with upwards of 200,000 Japanese civilians killed either immediately or by radiation poisoning. The case of Truman's difficult decision reveals something important about the manner in which we make moral judgments in many situations: our judgments often boil down to thinking through the consequences of our actions, and doing what in the end we believe will bring about the greater good. Ethicists commonly call this approach to moral judgment "teleological ethics" (from the Greek roots telos = end or aim + logos = reason), or "consequentialism."
  • For example The case of Lockheed in Japan in 1972 where Carl Kotchian ,then president of Lockheed had to offer $12.5 million in bribes and commissions to sell 21 tristars plane in Japan. However the above action was had the following positive consequences:-Thousands of jobs were saved , thereby benefitting Lockheed workers , their families and the communities in which they lived.Stock holders were saved from the loss that would have resulted from the collapse of the company.
  • Utility & Utilitarianism

    1. 1. UTILITY & UTILITARIANISM
    2. 2. Utilitarianism What is Utilitarianism ? “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." (John Stuart Mills Greatest Happiness Principle) In other words, judge an action by the total amount of happiness and unhappiness it creates
    3. 3. ExamplesSay there is a train coming toward a group of 5 peopletied to the tracks youre standing by the lever to make the train go onto a different path that is heading towards yourself.
    4. 4. ExamplesA utilitarian would pull the lever to make the train headin his/her direction. Killing one person creates a greateramount of good than killing 5 people.
    5. 5. ExamplesA large group of people is stuck in a cave because afat man (no put down intended) is stuck in the onlyexit of this cave. BOOM The only way to free themselves would to dynamite their way out, therefore sacrificing the fat man. Otherwise they will all die.
    6. 6. Theory 1:Teleological Theories Defining characteristics  moral goodness is dependent upon non moral values  justification of actions based on ends: “ends justify the means”  greatest balance of good over evil
    7. 7. ExampleHiroshima and Nagasaki bombings on PresidentTruman‟s orders in 1945 during World War II1. Two populous Japanese cities destroyed2. 200,000 Japanese civilians killed3. Japan Surrendered4. This Option was better as it avoided the land Invasion of Japan which had an estimated death toll of 1 million.
    8. 8.  Strengths  compatible with our own moral reasoning (all done to promote oneself)  a prudential morality based on the assumption that others will take advantage  human nature to be self-interested (psychological egoism)
    9. 9.  Weaknesses  an ethical theory must be „universalized‟ -- able to be adopted by others  human experience shows that we have a wide variety of motivations including doing things for others for its own sake
    10. 10. Theory 2:Deontological Ethics Actions or rules are valuable in themselves without any appeal to consequences Rule deontological theories are very conducive to „role‟ morality: duties and obligations Duties are self-evidently true  lying, bribery, respect for others  Example - The Lockheed case in Japan.
    11. 11. Example – Ross‟s System Duties of Fidelity – To keep promises. Duties of Reparation – To compensate people for injury that we wrongfully inflict on them. Duties of Gratitude – To return favors that others do for us. Duties of Justice – To ensure that goods are distributed according to the merits of the individuals. Duties of Beneficence – To improve conditions of others. Duties of Self-Improvement – Self-Improvisation with respect to virtue and intelligence. Duties of Non-Maleficence – Avoiding injury to others.
    12. 12.  Strengths  intuitively, many of the duties are plausible  focuses on the treatment of individuals Weaknesses  difficult to determine „rightness‟  prioritizing rules when in conflict is problematic
    13. 13. Classical UtilitarianismA.Jeremy Bentham(1748-1832)B.John Stuart Mill(1806-1873)
    14. 14. Jeremy Bentham‟s version Defining Characteristics 1. This principle approves or disapproves of every action on the basis whether the action has a tendency to:- 1. Augment or increase 2. Diminish or decrease the happiness of the party whose interest is in question.
    15. 15. ACTION S Consequences Tendency ? Increase Decreasehappiness happiness Action Actionapprove disapprove d d
    16. 16. The Hedonistic calculusBentham assumed that a precise quantitativemeasurement of pleasure and pain was possibleand outlined a procedure that he called hedonisticcalculus. It states that :-
    17. 17. Reaction to HedonismCritics at that time complained that pleasure istoo low to constitute the good for humanbeings and pointed out that even pigs arecapable of pleasure, which led to the chargethat utilitarianism is a “PIG PHILOSOPHY”.
    18. 18. John Stuart Mill‟s versionHe developed a more defensible version of utilitarian position :- “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness , wrong as they tend to produce reverse of happiness.”
    19. 19. John Stuart Mill‟s version
    20. 20. John Stuart Mill‟s version Mill departed from Bentham‟s strict quantitative treatment of pleasure by introducing the idea that pleasures also differ in quality. However Mill‟s insight does not succeed in saving the thesis of hedonism or the utilitarian principle that we ought to produce the greatest possible amount of pleasure . For example TV Viewer Pie Chart % of ppl preferring trashy TV shows % of ppl preferring fine dramas
    21. 21. John Stuart Mill‟s version Mill departed from Bentham‟s strict quantitative treatment of pleasure by introducing the idea that pleasures also differ in quality. However Mill‟s insight does not succeed in saving the thesis of hedonism or the utilitarian principle that we ought to produce the greatest possible amount of pleasure . For example OH GOD!! No more of Ekta Kapoor daily soaps A Utilitarian Decision maker
    22. 22. Other Forms Of UtilitarianismThe utilitarian principle involves 4 distincttheses :-I. Maximalism : a right action is one that has not merely some good consequences , but also the greatest amount of good consequences possible when the bad consequences are also taken into consideration.II. Universalism : the consequences to be
    23. 23. Act Utilitarianism“It states that an action is right if and only if itproduces the greatest balance of pleasure overpain for everyone.”
    24. 24. The Case of Lockheed , 1972, Japan Carl Kotchian ,then president of Lockheed had to offer $12.5 million in bribes and commissions to sell 21 tristar planes in Japan Thousands of Stock Holders jobs were saved were saved
    25. 25. Rule Utilitarianism“It states that an action is right if and only if itconforms to a set of rules the generalacceptance of which would produce the greatestbalance of pleasure over pain for everyone. In itthe consequence of following the relevant rule isconsidered. “
    26. 26. Example of Rule UtilitarianismExamples:-1. Working hard for examinations2. Always stopping when traffic signal is red3. Wearing a helmet while driving4. Recycling waste

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