Lecture Notes: p. 144. I want to give you something to think about while we’re traveling down the road . . . They are predicting several inches of snow for tonight, and I feel that you yourself are the only person who knows where this little girl’s body is, that you yourself have only been there once, and if you get a snow on top of it you yourself may be unable to find it . . . the parents of this little girl should be entitled to a Christian burial for the little girl who was snatched away from them on Christmas [E]ve and murdered. Is there a question? Did they violate the agreement to not question Williams?
Lecture Notes: P. 145. Actions, laws, policies, are morally right to the degree that they produce some good or some useful outcome . Actions themselves are neither right nor wrong; Moral worth attaches only to what decisions and actions bring about, not directly to the decisions or actions themselves. Some consequentialists argue that there is nothing wrong with torture; instead, torture should be judged only by the good that it yields (or is expected to yield) relative to all other possible courses of action. In other words, the “means” can be justified by the “end.”
P. 146 Class Discussion: While seemingly straightforward and intuitively appealing, several critical questions need to be addressed with respect to the logic and implications of consequentialist moral theory, each of which will be explored over the remainder of the chapter.
Lecture Notes: p. 146 Utilitarianism argues that actions are morally right so far as they maximize good consequences and/or minimize bad consequences; however, classical utilitarianism understands only happiness to be ultimately “good” or valuable. Principle of utility or greatest happiness principle , which holds that: Actions are right to the extent that they promote happiness , and wrong to the extent that they produce unhappiness; and, Because more than one “party” will be affected, the action which is “right” is that which produces the happiness for the greatest number of people (or, conversely, “eliminates pain for the greatest number of people”).
Lecture Notes: P. 147. The happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right . . . is not the agent’s own happiness, but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator. Utilitarianism requires that we weigh equally the happiness of everyone affected by our actions, without placing more or less importance on that of anyone (including ourselves). In some cases, the morally right action may be one in which we endure harm or pain in the interest of bringing about happiness or reducing suffering for a greater number of people.
Lecture Notes: p. 148. Self vs. others’ concern: We know what is in our own interests, while we can know the needs and interests of other people only imperfectly. ETHICAL EGOISM - a moral principle concerned with consequences of our actions. UTILITARIANISM - our decisions should produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people The happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right is not the agent’s own happiness, but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others; utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator.
Lecture Notes: Box 8.2, p. 150 Question: What are the consequences of plea bargaining? Prosecution - high conviction rate. The victim is assured that the offender will be punished in some fashion and to some extent. Defendant - plea bargaining exploits the fear coerces them to surrendering Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury. Community – Saves money or criminals are “getting off easy”?
Lecture Notes: P. 151 Hedonism is a simple and popular theory which suggests that pleasure and pain are the only things we can say are intrinsically good or intrinsically bad. 9 Everything that we normally consider good is good only because it in some way produces pleasure; while anything bad is bad because it produces pain. p. 151. Bentham’s moral philosophy assumes that humans are by nature pleasure-seeking, and that all behavior is motivated by pleasure and/or pain alone. People naturally seek to maximize pleasure and avoid pain.
Lecture Notes: p. 151. Bentham described this process of categorizing and measuring pleasures as the felicity calculus (AKA the “hedonic calculus,” “calculus of pleasures,” and “utilitarian calculus”). Pleasure can be measured by seven dimensions: Intensity of pleasure—how strong is it? Duration of pleasure—how long does it last? Certainty of pleasure—how sure are we that it will be experienced? Proximity of pleasure—how soon will it be experienced? Fecundity —will the pleasure lead to or produce other pleasures as well? Purity —how free will the pleasure be from pain? Extent —how many people are affected? See Table 8.1 for examples of each.
Lecture Notes: p. 155. Utilitarianism - asks us to do that which we cannot possibly do: know what the consequences of our actions will be. Prediction: Bentham’s felicity calculus requires a prediction about the intensity, duration, extent, of pleasure brought about by certain courses of action. Yet, no one can ever know the future consequences of our actions, especially including the more long-term effects. Happiness: is happiness the only thing that is good in itself, worthy of consideration in our moral decision-making. CONSEQUENCES: See Box 8.4, p. 157
Lecture Notes: p. 159 This tension between means and ends is one that criminal justice practitioners are forced to confront and work within on an everyday basis. p. 160. Dirty Harry Problem: • A police officer is in a situation in which a morally good or desirable outcome may be accomplished. • The officer believes that the most certain way to accomplish this end is through techniques that would otherwise be considered morally questionable or even illegal (e.g., falsifying probable cause to make a stop, manufacturing a false arrest to justify an illegal search, using deceptive interviewing and interrogation techniques). • The officer believes that the good outweighs the evil done through the use of immoral or illegal techniques.