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Alarm 30 utilitarianism utilitarianism while i brush

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Unformatted text preview: , my situation is worse than it would have been had the alarm bell remained silent. alarm 30 Utilitarianism Utilitarianism While I brush my teeth I begin to see some meaning in While my life, however, and as soon as I taste my morning coffee the situation looks quite pleasant. However, once I start to read the morning newspaper things become worse. I am reminded of the miserable state of the world (in many respects). In particular, when I read about a famine in the aftermath of the war in Somalia, I feel despair. But when I catch the tube and embark on my journey to work, once again I feel fine. However, when I leave the tube station near my office, I see a child being knocked over by a car. knocked 31 Utilitarianism Utilitarianism I rush to her rescue and for a short while I stand there, rush holding the unconscious child in my arms, feeling the weight of her head on my shoulder. I feel miserable. An ambulance arrives and the child is taken care of. An I continue on my way to work. I start preparing a lecture. I call the hospital and learn that the child has not been injured seriously. I deliver my lecture and get a stimulating response from my audience. I go home by tube and prepare the dinner. My wife, who is a nurse at the hospital returns home in the evening. We have dinner together, I tell her about the accident, and we go to bed early. The last thing I feel, as wakefulness merges into unconsciousness, is intense wellbeing. unconsciousness, 32 Utilitarianism Utilitarianism This narrative and Figure 2.1 representing its hedonistic This aspect are meaningful, according to hedonism. What is plotted on the y axis is how I experience my situation at each moment, ‘from inside’, so to speak. The (grey) area between the curve and the x axis can be said to represent the sum total of my well-being on this day. day. It is sometimes said that hedonistic utilitarianism is It incoherent since it operates with scales that are hard to reconcile. Even if, from a hedonistic point of view, pleasure is positive and pain negative, how can we assess how positive and how negative these feelings are, and how can we calculate their respective contribution to the total 33 hedonistic state of a person at a certain moment? hedonistic Utilitarianism Utilitarianism But the version of hedonism stated here does not But presuppose that we have to perform such calculations. presuppose According to the interpretation of hedonistic utilitarianism discussed here, it is assumed that there is only one hedonistic dimension of our lives. At each moment we feel what we feel and that is it. Our degree of pleasure is a quality of our total experience. degree It is certainly true that all sorts of experiences can It contribute to the hedonistic state I am in at a certain moment. While listening to the comments from my students I remember what it felt like to hold the child in my arms and I can also look forward to tonight’s supper, and so forth. All this contributes to bringing me into the hedonic state where, as a matter of fact, I am at present. where, 34 Utilitarianism Utilitarianism This does not mean that I try to ascribe an This independent value to my memory of holding the child, or listening to the comments of my students and looking forward to supper respectively, in order to calculate what kind of state I am in right now. I am in the state in which I am, and this is something I directly experience. experience. The fact that I directly experience what hedonic The situation I am in does not presuppose that I can always make correct judgements about my hedonistic state. state. It is true enough that, at any time, I feel what I feel, but It this does not mean that my description of my state 35 must be correct. must Utilitarianism Utilitarianism And when I compare the state I am in right now with And the state I was in some time ago, I may very well reach the wrong conclusion. However, what is presupposed by hedonistic utilitarianism is that there is a truth in the matter (there is a fact of the matter to be right or wrong about, when I describe it). describe Bentham was a straightforward hedonistic utilitarian. Bentham According to his version of utilitarianism, what should be maximized is the sum total of felt well-being (happiness). J. S. Mill did not concur with this simple form of hedonistic utilitarianism. According to him, we should distinguish between higher and lower qualities 36 of well-being. of Utilitarianism- Eudaimonistic Eudaimonistic John Stuart thought that Utilitarianism needed a richer John notion of happiness. Mill distinguished between two different kinds or orders of pleasure. The lower kind (eating, drinking, sex) are more intense, but lead to pain when taken to excess. The higher kind (high culture, intellectual creativity, spirituality) are less intense, but are more protracted. spirituality) Mill argued that the higher pleasures are superior to the lower pleasures. Mill’s version of Utilitarianism is often referred to as E...
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