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Flashcards in Utilitarianism Deck (11)
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1

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-Response: We can contribute to general happiness today, so Mill’s response is outdated.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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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.

8

What are strengths/weaknesses of Utilitarianism?

-Strengths:
-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.

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

9

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.

10

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.

11

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.