Some Reasons to Favor Utilitarianism

Some Reasons to Favor Utilitarianism - anthropologists can...

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Some Reasons to Favor Utilitarianism I. Intuitive The ethical theory links happiness and pleasure with morality. This seems to make sense with our common beliefs and intuitions about morality. For example, utilitarianism can give an intuitive account for why we believe that murder is wrong: the claim that “Murder is wrong” ultimately boils down to pain and unhappiness. And even though people might have different moral beliefs, most would maintain that pain is bad, and pleasure is good. II. Clear-cut Utilitarianism doesn’t rely on vague intuitions or abstract principles such as Kant’s theory. Instead, you assign plus points to what will bring about happiness and minus points to what will bring about pain. Once you implement some simple arithmetic, you can determine whether your action will produce more (or less) happiness for the affected population than the alternative actions that are available. Given the simplicity of utilitarianism, psychologists, sociologists and
Background image of page 1
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: anthropologists can determine what makes people happy or which policies to promote in order to benefit society as a whole. III. Flexible Unlike Kant’s ethics, utilitarianism doesn’t rigidly label actions as absolutely right or wrong. It allows for flexibility and sensitivity that is needed for each specific moral context. For example, lying may be morally permissible in cases where serial killers are searching for endearing siblings. Kant would argue that lying is immoral no matter what the circumstance. This, however, seems counterintuitive to our moral beliefs. IV. Impartial and Fair Utilitarianism requires us to balance our interests with those of others. For example, at least we consider the happiness and well-being of a serial killer before we decide to lie to him or her. Thus, utilitarianism appears to promote a sense of social harmony....
View Full Document

This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course PHIL 61 at San Jose State University .

Ask a homework question - tutors are online