UTILITARIANISM

UTILITARIANISM - UTILITARIANISM [1] Intrinsic...

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UTILITARIANISM [1] Intrinsic Value/Goodness (a) Definitions/explanations Something is intrinsically good if and only if it is good per se, good in and of itself, good regardless of its effects or consequences. Something is extrinsically good if and only if it is good as a means, good by virtue of what it leads to, good as a result of its effects or consequences. (b) Three Principles about Goodness : (i) There is something good. (ii) If something is good, then it is either intrinsically or extrinsically good (or both). (iii) If anything is extrinsically good, then something is intrinsically good. (c) The “2 worlds” Test for Intrinsic Goodness : If, of two worlds that are otherwise exactly alike, the one containing (more) x is, intuitively, preferable to the one without (less), then x is intrinsically good. (d) Candidates intrinsic goods : Pleasure, happiness, knowledge, beauty, existence, life, friendship/love. [2] Some Characteristic Features of Classical Utilitarianism (a) It assumes that morality = axiology + decision theory. (b) It is hedonistic , consequentialist , and universalistic . (c) It involves no explicit reference to any general moral principles (e.g. killing is wrong), God, societal conventions or individual beliefs. [3] Formulating Classical Utilitarianism (AU) “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals “utility” or the “greatest happiness principle” holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain.” J.S. Mill: Utilitarianism (Chapter 2) Interpretation 1 : An act, a, is morally right to degree n iff a tends to produce happiness to degree n. Interpretation 2 : A token-action, a , is morally right iff a produces pleasure and the absence of pain. Interpretation 3 : A token-action, a , is morally right iff a produces at least as great a balance of pleasure over pain as any alternative (where an alternative to an action, a =df. another act that the person who would do a if it were to be done -- the “agent” -- could do instead, at that time.)
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[4] Pleasure and Pain (a) What are pleasure and pain? Answer: Pleasure and pains are episodic, introspectively available mental events -- sorts of feelings. (b) Which episodes of pleasure and pain are relevant to the moral normative status of an action? Answer: All episodes of pleasure and pain that would result from any of the alternative actions whatsoever. What matters is the balance of total amounts of pleasure and pain of the alternatives, regardless of whose pleasures and pains they are. (c) How are pleasures and pains -- and so the balance of the two -- to be measured? Answer: (adapted from Bentham): The “Hedonic Calculus”.
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UTILITARIANISM - UTILITARIANISM [1] Intrinsic...

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