Utilitarianism Flashcards Preview

Moral Philosophy > Utilitarianism > Flashcards

Flashcards in Utilitarianism Deck (11)
Loading flashcards...

What is the objection of impartiality and what is Mills response? And then what are the 2 reasons why the response fails?

-The trolley problem. It doesn’t allow for personal connections/ feelings.

-Mill: Partiality is how we contribute to general happiness.

-Response: We can contribute to general happiness today, so Mill’s response is outdated.
-Stronger Response: If fails to understand the importance of partiality.


What is the criticism of tyranny of the majority?

-John Stuart Mill presented this against Act. There are 2 types:
-Democratic government (Dictatorship)
-Social opinion (Peer pressure)

-If there is a majority then this could justify horrific things.

-Response: This is fine if we view situations realistically.
-This fails because how can we ever know ‘realistic situations’. We have to assume consequences.


What is the criticism that it’s impossible to work out consequences? And the response to it

-The hedonic calculus is impossible to follow.
-How can we ever know we have achieved the most ‘general happiness’.

Response: Bentham argues the hedonic calculus is only a guideline, not a strict rule.

Responds to Bentham: still too demanding.


What is the criticism that happiness isn’t the only thing we seek? And the responses.

-Nozik’s experience machine. We’d rather be in contact to reality because there is a deeper dimension to human happiness.

-Response: Maximisation of preferences. This can be countered by impossible to work out consequences.
-Mills proof-Act collapses into rule.


What is the criticism that it justifies anything and the responses to this?

-Mill’s analysis on Justice.
-We need to take into account the act/intentions.

Response: Mills rule utilitarianism or what is wrong! What’s wrong about murder is that someone is dead not the intentions of the murderer.


What is the criticism in reference to moral integrity?

-Utilitarianism requires us to sacrifice our own moral values. We don’t actually make a choice

Response: Following our moral integrity contributes to general happiness. Therefore Act Utilitarianism fails.


What are Mills 2 parts of his proof of Utilitarianism?

-1) Happiness is good. What is good is what we should aim at in our actions and lives.
-Good is an end, a purpose of action.
-Happiness is a purpose of action.
-No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person desires his own happiness.

-2) Only happiness is good. People don’t only desire happiness.
-Happiness has many ‘ingredients’, such as truth and freedom, and each ingredient is desirable in itself.
-It is impossible to desire something that you don’t think is a pleasure.


What are strengths/weaknesses of Utilitarianism?

-It’s equal, everyone’s happiness is the same.
-It’s easy to understand and follow
-It’s intuitive, we normally do stuff anyway that makes us happy.

-Tyranny Of the majority
-Anything is justified
-Value of intention
-Deeper dimension (Noziks experience machine).
-Values If relationships


What are the objections to Rule Utilitarianism?

-Rule fetishism. This is where you become obsessed with the rule and follow them all the time; even if not following will create more happiness.

-Life is too complicated; there will be way too many rules which are all too long.

-Morality can’t be summed up by rules.


Outline Rule Utilitarianism and the positives of this.

-An action is right when it complies with those rules which, if everybody followed them, would lead to the greatest happiness.
-It isn’t the consequences of the individual act that matter, but the consequences of everyone following the rules that govern the actions.

-We don’t have to work out the consequences of each act in turn; we can create the rules once, together.
-Some types of acts are ruled out e.g. torturing children.
-A rule that allows us to be partial to family and friends rather than having to be impartial all the time.
-I am only required to act in a way that, if everyone acted like that, would promote the greatest happiness.


Outline and explain Preference Utilitarianism.

-We should maximise not pleasure, but the satisfaction of preferences.
-We want to be in touch with reality.
-Many people prefer not to be harmed more than they want pleasure.
-People have preferences after their death.
-Preferences also explains Mill’s distinction between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ pleasures.