Download
utilitarianism n.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Utilitarianism PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism

265 Views Download Presentation
Download Presentation

Utilitarianism

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript

  1. Utilitarianism Lecture 2 Dealing with uncertainty Utilitarianism and absolutism Utilitarianism and the good

  2. Objections so far • Pig philosophy • Motivationally too demanding • Not enough time to calculate

  3. Uncertainty • Objection: Often uncertain of consequences, so can’t identify the action that maximizes happiness • Reply: In cases of uncertainty, choose the action that offers the best “prospect”

  4. Choosing the best prospect • Use degrees of confidence to assign probabilities to consequences • Weigh possible consequences by both probability and goodness

  5. Example • Options: • Spend small budget on medications (A) • Spend money on lottery tickets and winnings on medication (B) • B has a possible consequence that is very good, but its probability is very low • A is a better prospect than B

  6. Moral absolutism • Claims that morality absolutely prohibits certain actions, no matter how good their consequences • Example: inviolable rights • Utilitarian: rights are embedded in institutions • Is this good enough?

  7. Ex. 1: Sacrifice a healthy patient? • Absolutist: Utilitarian must say yes • Reply: no, because of long-term and indirect consequences • Medical rights thus function as good subordinate principles

  8. Ex. 2: Sacrifice a disaster victim? • Absolutist: Utilitarian must say yes • Reply: In unusual circumstances, yes is the right answer • Attachment to subordinate principles may make it feel wrong • It’s a case of choosing the lesser of 2 evils

  9. Ex. 3: Kill innocent person to save hostages? • Difference from example 2: human production of the greater evil • Absolutist: shows clearly that you bear a special responsibility for what you do, as opposed to what merely happens in consequence of what you do • Utilitarian must deny this

  10. Doctrine of negative responsibility • Statement: You are as responsible for any outcome you could prevent, and not merely those you directly bring about • Utilitarian endorses this • Absolutist denies it

  11. Ex. 4: Sophie’s Choice • Agent relative obligations and permissions? • Utilitarianism says no, except for subordinate principles • Nonconsequentialist can make room for these

  12. Ex. 5: Truman’s decision • Truman gave a consequentialist argument • This could be challenged • But absolutists could say that it was wrong even if it maximized human welfare

  13. Utilitarianism and the good • Happiness is a mental state, a quality of experience • Example: the deluded physician • Example: the experience machine

  14. Utilitarianism and the good (2) • Examples suggest that the good is more than a mental state • Can utilitarianism accommodate this? • Might have to abandon the ideal observer method • Might have to appeal to moral notions • This would depart from consequentialism