Pojman and Critique of C_

Pojman and Critique of C_ - Sam Black, PHIL 120 Pojmans...

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Sam Black, PHIL 120 Pojman’s Discussion of Utilitarianism I The Meaning of Utilitarianism Made Precise Q: What makes a theory utilitarian? (See R. M. Hare, “A Utilitarian Approach to Ethics”) i) Consequentialism: The consequences of an act make it right or wrong. (For Kant, consequences don’t matter directly but whether an action is consistent with a maxim/policy that can be a universal law.) ii) Welfarism: The relevant consequences are restricted to the welfare of all persons (or sentient beings) – literally how they fare -- considered impartially. (For Kant, all people are considered impartially e.g. CI #2: ‘Act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.’ But it is not necessary to consider a person’s welfare. Ex. The reason there is for not lying to you is that lying cannot be a universal law, or lying treats you as a mere means.) iii) Aggregationism: The action that should be chosen is the action that maximizes the welfare of all in sum regardless of the distribution of welfare. (By contrast, some egalitarians claim that less absolute welfare for all is better provided that if relative inequalities of welfare 1
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are minimized – see Rawls.) Welfare: Utilitarians can have different conceptions of ‘welfare’: desire satisfaction, hedonism, perfectionism, etc. II Why Be a Utilitarian? Here are some traditional answers (which people find more persuasive than Mill’s proof). 1. The commitment to equality: ‘Each person to count for one, no person for more than one.’ (Bentham) Q: why should any person’s welfare count more than anyone else’s? 2. A test for moral intuitions that removes prejudice and bias (Bentham) Ex: My Sister’s Keeper – Is it OK for me to let my young sibling muddle along in school, or do I have to ruin my weekends by coming home to hang out with her? Responses to dilemmas are often polluted by: i) Sub-conscious Rationalizations (e.g. ‘people have to learn for themselves don’t they?) ii) Communal Prejudice (e.g. ‘Girls shouldn’t be too ambitious since there is no point in their having careers’). Since utilitarianism provides an objective way to calculate how to act it removes prejudice from deliberation. That’s true of Kant’s theory too, but the worry is that the CI is empty or too vague and 2
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may fail to filter out rationalizations and prejudices. 3. An answer for every situation (Pojman, 105) III Some Varieties of Utilitarianism A. Direct vs Indirect Utilitarianism i. Direct act utilitarianism : an action is right if that action causes the best consequences (the largest aggregation of impersonal welfare). Obj:
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Pojman and Critique of C_ - Sam Black, PHIL 120 Pojmans...

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