NOTES EXAM 4 - Notes 4 Great Western Philosophers Mill Utilitarianism 1806-1873 Is an empiricist doing pretty traditional philosophy 1 The

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Great Western Philosophers Mill Utilitarianism 1806-1873 Is an empiricist doing pretty traditional philosophy 1) The principle of utility (consequentialist) a) "The right action is the one that produces the most happiness overall." happiness = pleasure (hedonistic utility) You have to add the happiness of all the ppl and weigh it against the misery of the unhappy people, and make sure the total happiness weighs out the total misery, not necessarily number of happy and miserable ppl Not the greatest happiness for the greatest number b) Between motive action and consequences, consequences are what counts (consequentialist ethics) c) The only way to prove that happiness is the one intrinsically desirable thing is to point out that it’s what ppl in fact desire for its own sake When ppl desire wealth, fame, and virtue they are really trying to become happy through those things d) Bentham (Mill’s teacher) Scientific ethics i Happiness can be quantified ii We can have a genuine utilitarian calculus iii Mill rejects this (and this was soon abandoned b/c diff ppl find happiness and misery in different ways) had himself stuffed in the University of London 2) Possible criticisms a) Selfish: No because the goal is the greatest happiness OVERALL b) Live like Pigs (eat, sleep, procreate and live like pigs) to maximize pleasure Mill’s says it's the critic who thinks people are pigs. There's a hierarchy of values, lower and higher and someone who knows both won't sacrifice the higher (going out with friends, being productive) even for perfect possession of the lower (sleeping eating, ect.) “Its better to be the human dissatisfied than the pig satisfied” Even if (contrary to above) you really would be happier living the life of the pig, you would not be producing the greatest happiness overall. c) Two selfless? Isn’t it unreasonable to expect any but the most saintly to act from the principle of utility? No because its consequences not motive that counts. Don’t expect that ppl act from a motive to maximize happiness. A merchant that helps someone to be good and virtuous and another merchant that helps someone to make more money are both equally superior actions. While Kant would have said only the one doing it for the right reasons is virtuous. Best system is to make people earn a living and gain their own happiness by creating happiness for others as well while they are doing it. d) Too difficult to figure out what to do? We are supposed to think about the overall impact…. The impact on everybody, everywhere, forever in the future No because we have all of human history to guide us. We have our education and intuitions rooted in the past experience of the entire human race to lead us correctly. Occasionally the hard case will arise, and then we just have to do the best we can with information at hand.
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This note was uploaded on 03/22/2009 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Delaware.

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NOTES EXAM 4 - Notes 4 Great Western Philosophers Mill Utilitarianism 1806-1873 Is an empiricist doing pretty traditional philosophy 1 The

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