Another way to incorporate relations among values is to considerdistribution. Compare one outcome where most people aredestitute but a few lucky people have extremely large amounts of goodswith another outcome that contains slightly less total goods but whereevery person has nearly the same amount of goods. Egalitarian criticsof classical utilitarianism argue that the latter outcome is better, somore than the total amount of good matters. Traditional hedonisticutilitarians who prefer the latter outcome often try to justifyegalitarian distributions of goods by appealing to a principle ofdiminishing marginal utility. Other consequentialists, however,incorporate a more robust commitment to equality. Early on, Sidgwick(1907, 417) responded to such objections by allowing distribution tobreak ties between other values. More recently, some consequentialistshave added some notion of fairness (Broome 1991, 192–200) or desert(Feldman 1997, 154–74) to their test of which outcome is best. (Seealso Kagan 1998, 48–59.) Such consequentialists do not just add upvalues; they look at patterns.
As an egalitarian doctrine, where everyone’s happiness counts equally, the rational, relatively straightforward nature of utilitarianism offers an attractive model for democratic government.
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Since it was first articulated in the late 19th Century by the likes of Jeremy Bentham and later John Stewart Mill, the classical approach to utilitarianism has since become the basis for many other consequentialist theories such as rule-utilitarianism and act-utilitarianism upon which this essay will focus (Driver,...
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Similarly, critics of utilitarianism often argue that utilitarianscannot be good friends, because a good friend places more weight on thewelfare of his or her friends than on the welfare of strangers, bututilitarianism requires impartiality among all people. However,agent-relative consequentialists can assign more weight to the welfareof a friend of an agent when assessing the value of the consequences ofthat agent's acts. In this way, consequentialists try to capture commonmoral intuitions about the duties of friendship (see also Jackson 1991).
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Most utilitarians lack such strong stomachs (or teeth), so theymodify utilitarianism to bring it in line with common moral intuitions,including the intuition that doctors should not cut up innocentpatients. One attempt claims that a killing is worse than a death. Thedoctor would have to kill the “donor” in order to prevent the deaths ofthe five patients, but nobody is killed if the five patients die. Ifone killing is worse than five deaths that do not involve killing, thenthe world that results from the doctor performing the transplant isworse than the world that results from the doctor not performing thetransplant. With this new theory of value, consequentialists can agreewith others that it is morally wrong for the doctor to cut up the“donor” in this example.
Utilitarianism Introduction - Essay - eNotescom
John Stuart Mill, acknowledged for this theory, explains that utilitarianism is a theory established on the pursuing, “actions are right in proportion as they incline to advance happiness, wrong as they incline to produce the reverse of happiness”....