A look at the moral philosophy of utilitarianism and its perspective of life

A look at the moral philosophy of utilitarianism and its perspective of life

They only produce conclusions that are more than interesting symbol games when we use the symbols to represent relationships in reality. Rule utilitarianism claims, on the other hand: Follow a rule whose general observance promotes happiness the most. The lesson for contemporary business, especially with the rise of big data, is that we need both numbers and reasoned principles. Utilitarianism as a normative ideal sets out what a perfect reasoner would do, and thus conflicts with many normal ideas of how strong moral rules should be - until one realizes that Utilitarianism tends to support strong, prescriptive rules in practice. If an act is vicious, its viciousness is a matter of the human response given a corrected perspective to the act or its perceived effects and thus has a kind of contingency that seems unsettling, certainly unsettling to those who opted for the theological option. The model seems to be roughly this: At the neutral point of the preference scale, actions have the tendency — in regard to the status quo — to neither increase nor decrease the mass of utility in the world. They give some guidance about what to do in relatively ordinary situations, but not how to resolve every possible conflict. However, in a specific case, if a lie is necessary to achieve some notable good, consequentialist reasoning will lead us to favor the lying.

Third, moral preferences should follow Pareto Optimality. The central insight of Utilitarianism, that one ought to promote happiness and prevent unhappiness whenever possible, seems undeniable.

Jeremy bentham

The interplay of social feelings and moral education explains, in turn, why we are not only upset by injustices when we personally suffer, but also when the elemental rights of others are harmed. When we are "playing God or the ideal observer", we use the specific form, and we will need to do this when we are deciding what general principles to teach and follow. Then we must ask, who are the others we must consider? The well-being of strangers counts just as much as that of friends, family or self. To summarize the essential points: Mill can be characterized as an act utilitarian in regard to the theory of objective rightness, but as a rule utilitarian in regard to the theory of moral obligation. The major opponents of Utilitarianism are philosophies which believe that actions can be inherently right or wrong regardless of their consequences, or that some consequences are good even if they do not increase the welfare of any individual, or that we should promote welfare in some way other than by maximizing it. On top of these, Utilitarianism constructs a powerful and consistent philosophy that can be applied to any situation. Note that one could prove Utilitarianism using other axioms, perhaps even more reasonable ones, but these four are among those that will work. In order to have proper consideration for the welfare of large numbers of people, it is necessary to discard empathy and attachment as tools which are not up to the job of working at such a broad and abstract scale. Utilitarian perspectives have also been quietly adopted in domains ranging from economics, political science, and decision theory to cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Neither Utilitarianism nor any opposing philosophy can be proven in such a way.

The Utilitarian argument is powerful because it does not require believing that anything is inherently right or wrong in order to demonstrate the benefits of being trustworthy. And it is unjust to punish someone for something, if he could not do anything to hinder its occurrence CW 9, This is confusing insofar as it would be unreasonable to prefer that which is worse to that which is better.

This is desirable in the sense people could and do desire it it is possible to do so — it is an action that is desire-ablebut not in the sense that we would want them to desire it.

Utilitarian approach

Despite the range of Utilitarian views, the average Utilitarian does not have the same views as the average person. This makes moral degeneration, but also moral progress possible. Urmson, James O. They do so precisely because they are the result of a process of evolutionary selection biologically, and culturally which gave the advantage to intuitions which promoted fitness. But they do not exhaust the moral realm. For rule utilitarianism, in contrast, an action would be objectively right, if it actually corresponds to rules that promote happiness. In , Urmson published an influential article [47] arguing that Mill justified rules on utilitarian principles. Neither each person, nor the aggregate of all persons seem to strive for the happiness of all.

Synthesizing Rights and Utility As you might expect, utilitarianism was not without its critics. A belief opposed to welfarism would be the idea that something is a good consequence regardless of whether or not people desire it.

utilitarianism ethics

The question, however, is not what we usually do, but what we ought to do, and it is difficult to see any sound moral justification for the view that distance, or community membership, makes a crucial difference to our obligations.

He felt that he could not be indifferent toward such differences. What this means is deceptively simple. This is an off-shoot of the different view of human nature adopted by Mill. I am afraid to report that, for the purposes of this example, your parent or sibling is nothing special in comparison to other individuals on the raft.

Utilitarianism examples

Gradually, sympathy becomes more inclusive. But the influence of the Classical Utilitarians has been profound — not only within moral philosophy, but within political philosophy and social policy. It serves the validation of rightness for our moral system and allows — as a meta-rule — the decision of conflicting norms. Where they differ is in the weight that should be given to the preferences of different people. They take pleasure in different things, and have different hopes and fears. This means that mathematics and logic require evidence to produce conclusions about reality, and their conclusions are only as good as that evidence. The accusation that hedonism is a "doctrine worthy only of swine" has a long history. In such a situation, it suddenly seems quite acceptable not to pay. Facts Matter. The social order recommended by Utilitarianism must be able to deal effectively with a non-Utilitarian majority, and with every failure and abuse to which humanity will inevitably subject it. Instead of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, one should demand, more modestly, the least amount of avoidable suffering for all Utilitarianism does not recommend sacrificing the real world justice system to hopes that individuals will come up with more expedient behavior on their own. Utilitarianism has been around for a long time, but it gained a lot in prominence and popularity in the late eighteenth century, due in part to the work of a British philosopher named Jeremy Bentham. Classical economics received some of its most important statements from Utilitarian writers, especially Ricardo and John Stuart Mill. This is a big reason why people don't like breaking "moral rules" without very good justification - the rules had to evolve to be fairly strong, stronger than they would have to be for a society of perfect reasoners, because otherwise they would not be strong enough to resist rationalization.

Hutcheson was committed to maximization, it seems. With this, the second step of the argument is complete.

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Ethics: Utilitarianism, Part 1 (video)