Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism - Utilitarianism Plan 1.Reintroduce the...

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Utilitarianism
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2 Plan 1.Reintroduce the notions of consequentialism, utilitarianism, and deontology. 2.Think about the dimensions on which varieties of utilitarianism might be distinguished from one another. 3.Put pressure on the idea that pleasure (even broadly construed) is the sole bearer of value. 4.Consider some problems for the utilitarian (the experience machine, the trolley problem, the problem of rights) 5.Distinguish between act and rule utilitarianism. 6.Raise two problems for rule utilitarianism (generality and collapse).
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3 Normative Ethics We’ll be mainly concerned with comparing and contrasting two theories in normative ethics. Utilitarianism Vs. Kant’s Categorical Imperative
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4 Utilitarianism The classic utilitarian says: An act is right if it maximises the good. This is a variety of act consequentialism . Prominent utilitarians include John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham.
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6 Consequentialism Vs. Deontology The consequentialist says that the moral rightness of an act depends solely on the consequences of that act.
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Utilitarianism A variety of consequentialism . Consequentialism: normative properties (for example, rightness ) depend only on consequences. Classical utilitarianism is perhaps the paradigmatic consequentialist theory.
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8 Consequentialism Vs. Deontology The deontologist, on the other hand, says that some other factors feature in the evaluation of the moral rightness of an act. There are moral norms that must be respected regardless of the consequences of respecting them: for example, the keeping of promises; or the special regard for one’s own children.
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9 Utilitarianism Vs. Kant’s Categorical Imperative Utilitarianism (roughly): an act is right so far as it has good consequences. Categorical Imperative: act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law
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Utilitarianism Such theories can be distinguished on several different dimensions: - Agent-centred vs. agent neutral - Expected vs. actual consequences - What consequences?
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11 Utilitarianism The utilitarian says that the right acts are those which maximise utility , i.e. the good. “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; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.”
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12 What is pain and pleasure? “Now, such a theory of life excites in many minds, and among them in some of the most estimable in feeling and purpose, inveterate dislike. To suppose that life has (as they express it) no higher end than pleasure - no better and nobler object of pursuit - they designate as utterly mean and grovelling; as a doctrine worthy only of swine. ..”
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13 The Problem To some, the principle of utilitarianism appears to promote as right those acts which maximise what we might consider relatively base, physical pleasures.
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Utilitarianism - Utilitarianism Plan 1.Reintroduce the...

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