Intro to Ethics Notes (Utilitarianism)
Intro to Ethics Notes (Utilitarianism) PHIL 160
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Julian Torian on Saturday March 7, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 160 at Kansas taught by Ben Eggleston in Spring2015. Since its upload, it has received 139 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Ethics in PHIL-Philosophy at Kansas.
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Date Created: 03/07/15
PHIL 160 Notes 3234 Utilitarianism lof2 De nition of Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is the theory that an action is right if and only if it results in at least as much wellbeing as any alternative action It is often associated with this phrase The greatest happiness of the greatest number 0 Problem with this phrase is that Utilitarianism is just concerned with the greatest happiness and no information is provided with the latter part of the phrase To choose among several possible acts 0 Imagine a world that would result from each act 0 Imagine how much wellbeing there is in that alternate world the world with the most wellbeing is the best 0 The act that leads to that world is right any other act is wrong Key elements of Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a consequentialist view morality of actions depend entirely on its consequences o It is also a Welfarefocused view it says that welfare or wellbeing is the only good Other good things are only good in that they promote wellbeing Utilitarianism is impartial Wellbeing is good and worth promoting no matter who experiences it Ethical Egoism is NOT impartial History of Utilitarianism 0 Name comes from the word 39Utility where utility is another word for someone s wellbeing so the name re ects the theory s focus on wellbeing Utilitarianism arose in 17th century England but not systematically articulated until the 18th century SinceJohn Stuart Mill author of On Liberty 1859 developed the view in his Utilitarianism 1861 it has become one of the most prominent ethical theories How it works Utilitarianism generally condemns certain actions murder theft rape etc because of their effects on wellbeing the decreases of wellbeing almost always greater than increases Moral vocabulary associated with Utilitarianism include o Sanctity of life 0 Natural rights 0 Autonomy o Dignity Utilitarianism says these are not really fundamental moral concepts Morality is just about maximizing wellbeing Utilitarianism opposes most forms of discrimination race religion sexual orientation etc This stance comes from weighing the decreases in well being people being harmed by this discrimination vs the increases in wellbeing people bene ting from these discriminations Utilitarianism condemns Utility the bene t someone gets from something Marginal Utility the bene t someone gets from an extra or additional increment of something Diminishing Marginal Utility when successive ahlthinnal i nnnnn nnI nF most of our current methods of using nonhuman animals as sources of food factory farming of chickens cows etc This stance comes from weighing the decreases in the wellbeing of the nonhuman animals vs the increases in the wellbeing of the humans who eat them Utilitarianism 20f2 The Calculation Objection Objection How is it possible to gure out and compare the consequences of all of one s options 0 Response Utilitarianism is not especially obligated to answer this objection since virtually all approaches to morality agree that acts consequences often matter We Human Beings have plenty of experience guring out the consequences of possible actions We can also imagine ourselves in other people s situations walk in another man s shoes Humans and Nonhuman Animals Objection 0 Response it is true that utilitarianism holds that species membership does not matter Any pain felt by any organism is bad 0 Utilitarianism does not deny that human beings are more complex than other animals and have distinct needs when it comes to their physical and psychological wellbeing Sanctity of Life Utilitarianism does not recognize the sanctity of life 0 Utilitarianism holds that what matters is not being alive per se but what a person or animal is capable of experiencing Demandingness Isn39t utilitarianism implausible because it requires people to make sacri ces that while possibly admirable are not morally required Ex donating money organs etc o Utilitarianism recognizes that it would not promote wellbeing in the long run for people to abandon their careers family commitments etc 0 However it does maintain that people are morally required to make much greater sacri ces than people typically think are morally required The Transplant Case Objection Doesn t utilitarianism require immoral actions by requiring the doctor to do the transplant in the hypothetical transplant case 0 In real life a policy of doctors killing healthy people in order to take their organs is likely to have very bad consequences aside from the good consequences of the lives saved consequentialism Not just the Normative Ethics What makes an act rinkF Ethical Egoism Your happiness consequences Consequentialis Utilitarianism E Everyone s 39 happiness