The ethical theory that answers all questions of what to do, what to admire, or how to live, in terms of maximizing *utility* or happiness.

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What is a good example to show that the government should not go against its laws for the greater good of the population [closed]

For example, the FBI unlawfully hacks into everyone's computer and catches 10,000 terrorists in doing so, causing happiness to the general population. What kind of counter example can I give to show ...
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122 views

As a Utilitarian why should I not kill myself to donate my organs and save a few other lives?

It seems that it improves the overall utility assuming we are all equal. Edit: Seems that calculating the utility improvement is not that simple. How many organs you might be able to donate is ...
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1answer
26 views

Does Mill make pain a required feature for experiencing pleasure?

In Mill's proof of utilitarianism, he defines happiness as: "Not a continuity of highly pleasurable excitement, but moments of such, in an existence made up of few but transitory pains, many and ...
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25 views

Is it a good argument in utilitarianism that you should always be truthful because you might later change your values?

I was thinking that one might justify lying because using his values he can maximize the utility of all people in the future by doing so. But then this came to my mind that what if someone changes his ...
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6answers
194 views

Kill the last of a species to save one child?

On 30 May 2016 a gorilla was killed after a small child fell into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. The type of gorilla was a Western Lowland Gorilla, which are endangered. Now, what if the ...
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How can a utilitarian argue against a “stealing from the rich and giving to the poor” scenario?

Imagine that a person steals money from a rich company without the company noticing and gives it to charities that give food to refugees. I can argue that since the money that is stolen from the ...
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131 views

Can utilitiarianism require informed consent?

Background In 2014, it was revealed that Facebook had manipulated news feeds to study emotions. Facebook did not go through any sort of ethical review at the time and has been criticized for this and ...
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62 views

Did Easterlin paradox and Scitovsky joyless economy disprove utilitarianism?

Utilitarianism is defined as follows: Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the best moral action is the one that maximizes utility. Utility is defined in various ways, but ...
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68 views

John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism and its relationship to Aristotle's eudaemonism

In Mill's Utilitarianism, he attempts to layout groundwork which removed subjectivity from the good in a thing. When I read this, it just seems like he's naysaying his relationship to the virtues laid ...
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44 views

Utilitarianism and happiness

Utilitarianism, as I understand it, builds on the concept of happiness. So it's basically an ethics machine which takes happiness as some sort of input that's already given to us. But where does ...
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45 views

Altrusim and its defenders

What are the best articles in defence of altruism? I've read lots of articles about objectivism but I could not find a consistent article which defends altruism. Could you suggest some because I want ...
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24 views

Is it self-evident that utilitarianism requires altruism, provided it does require altruism?

I've seen this way too often. People who claim themselves utilitarianists use the utilitarian argument to support their own end, but shy away when they just give to the common good. Sure, this shows ...
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How do total utilitarians respond to the problem of future people?

If humanity survives for a long time, then people today could have an extremely large number of descendants. Imagine that there are 100 drowning people, all of which happen to be infertile and one ...
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Can utilitarianism be manipulated to do awful things [duplicate]

Let's say it would take the torture and death of 100 million people to find the cure for death and aging. The cure would be cheap and easy to make and is easily distributed to the rest of the world's ...
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1answer
47 views

Why should you remain committed to a principle if it succeeded in the past, but not if you know not its efficacy?

CAUTION: Please edit this question's title, which I probably miswrote as I do not understand the quote below. Source: pp 49-50, Philosophy ; A Very Short Introduction (2002) by Edward Craig.   So ...
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49 views

In a utilitarian calculus, where do I find the values that I assign each “feeling” or action?

I'm to do a utilitarian calculation but nobody mentions where I find the values that I assign each "feeling" or action? Where can I find these values? If I don't find them, do I just make them up ...
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1answer
53 views

Who are the major thinkers of Act, Rule, and Motive Utilitarianism?

If one sought to present utilitarianism through the work of three of its prominent 20th Century theorists, which ones would make the most sense in the context of a general overview of the literature ...
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454 views

Would Utilitarianism say that surveillance of the public is wrong?

If surveillance results in fear from the majority of the public, will Utilitarianism reject surveillance of the public for security reasons? I'm assuming this because Utilitarianism calls an action ...
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3answers
91 views

Is there place for animal utility in utilitarianism?

Is there place for animal utility in utilitarianism? We know that animals can suffer, so they can have different states of well-being, and thus utility applies to them. However, I don't think that ...
2
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1answer
67 views

Why Do Our Motives Play a Part in Determining the Moral Worth of an Action?

I am looking at this from the perspective of a deontologist, who is against the hedonistic utilitarian theory of John Stuart Mill. John Stuart Mill's version of the hedonistic utilitarian theory does ...
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1answer
48 views

Objectively speaking, can chanting be beneficial in any way? [closed]

Chanting rituals are part of almost all religions, and also many non-religious groupings e.g. martial arts schools, political activist groups, etc. The content of chanting varies from the simplistic ...
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1answer
650 views

Alastair Norcross's Puppies, Pigs, and People and utilitarianism

In the article "Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal cases" by Alastair Norcross, he mainly argued that factory-farmed meat is morally wrong and that people who support it (including ...
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142 views

Utilitarian Argument Against Necrophillia

Under Utilitarianism, as defined by John Stewart Mill, would there be a coherent argument against necrophilia? It seems that, because no one is being harmed, and no relevant consequences would ensue ...
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179 views

Utilitarianism and Bertrand Russell

On an interview aired in 1959 Bertrand Russel, talking about religious beliefs said: "...it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty to hold a belief because is useful and not because is true." The open ...
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197 views

Integral Calculus and Utilitarianism

I came across this image relating calculus to happiness. It's obviously not meant to be particularly serious, but I was nevertheless inclined to give it some thought. The integral concept in ...
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403 views

How do utilitarians avoid ethical totalitarianism?

Utilitarianism, when dealing with the question of what is the best course of action for a whole group (community, country, society as whole, etc...), states that the maximum benefit for the maximum ...
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65 views

What role can guilt play in Act Utilitarianism?

If Bentham did posit guilt as pain that most would feel when doing wrong by others, then surely Utilitarianism would be unnecessary due to Bentham's own work on the motivation of Human Beings. ...
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64 views

Innovative Justifications for Utilitarianism [closed]

I've thought about this question for a while. Aside from the most common justifications for utilitarianism, or the greatest benefit for the maximum amount of people, what are new, more innovative ...
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4answers
165 views

Are some “right actions” not productive of the greatest happiness for the greatest number?

The question refers to utilitarianism and I received it during my ethics class. I need to critically evaluate this by referring to 3 global examples. I don't really know what example I could give ...
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1answer
140 views

Professional ethics - the relative ethics of paying into corruption for the 'greater good'

Disclaimer >> this is for a university essay, so obviously I'm not asking for anyone to write my essay for me :) There is a requirement in our degree we prove we are capable of grasping some ethical ...
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1answer
88 views

Utilitarianism and liberty

This is most likely a stupid question, but it has been on my mind for a really long time now. We think of utilitarianism as saying "action X is right if it promotes happiness and wrong if if it ...
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2answers
207 views

Is it ok to exterminate species if it is 'invasive'?

I have watched video on youtube where guy pours molten aluminium into fire ant colony to make casing. In the comments below there's huge discussion on is that a right thing to do. Main argument on ...
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1answer
128 views

How can one derive naturalistic moral principles without referencing utility?

When considering the derivation of moral principles from a naturalistic point of view, it would seem to me that moral statements can only be conceived of in one way. That is, if we are trying to make ...
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Is there any philosophical controversies if a country is consist of all lawyers but one farmer as the king? [closed]

In Utopian, it allows no lawyers by some philosophical logic and in other literature, philosopher should be the king. What is the philosophical controversies if a country is consist of all lawyers ...
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Evil thoughts without actions?

Can a thought without a corresponding action be morally wrong? More fully, under which approaches to morality do thoughts, in and of themselves, carry moral significance? In particular I'm looking ...
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2answers
1k views

Why is Propinquity included in Bentham's Hedonic Calculus?

Jeremy Bentham, a pioneer of Utilitarianism, produced 7 criteria for ethical decision making, known as the Hedonic (or Felicific) Calculus, designed to provide the greatest total pleasure to the ...
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1answer
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Factors of a Utilitarian Calculation

The Economist assesses the results of studies that pose two moral dilemmas: ...you are on a footbridge watching a trolley speeding down a track that will kill five unsuspecting people. You can ...
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150 views

Is parenthood permissible for a utilitarian?

Is parenthood permissible for a utilitarian, given the greater good that could be done with the resources you'll spend on it?
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230 views

According to Mill, are the stand your ground laws ethical?

Quick definition to get on the same page: "stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense without an obligation to retreat first" (wikipedia) This question is ...
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1answer
201 views

Utilitarian ethics: are consequences for yourself relevant?

In the movie Into the Wild, the main character (Christopher McCandless) 'moves' to Alaska without most modern comforts. He wants to provide for himself by hunting and collecting eatable plants, but ...
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Am I morally obligated to pursue a career in medicine?

I am a high school student who has no formal training in philosophy, so I apologize if this question seems naïve. However, it is one that I am currently facing in a life decision, and I would like a ...
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What is the difference between Rule Utilitarianism and Act Utilitarianism?

Based on the definitions given by Wikipedia , Rule Utilitarianism and Act Utilitarianism both seems to imply the same meaning Rule Utilitarianism Action is right as it conforms to a rule that ...
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2answers
191 views

Where online can I find arguments for preference utilitarianism?

I'm looking for (emphasis on) open access arguments for preference utilitarianism over hedonistic (or other alternative forms) of utilitarianism. Here's the current list (I don't have enough rep to ...
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84 views

Does Risk Aversion cause Diminishing Marginal Utility, or vice versa?

Let A be the set of possible states of the world, or possible preferences a person could have. Let G(A) be the set of "gambles" or "lotteries", i.e. the set of probability distributions over A. Then ...
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Assessing the Ethics of Building Unsafe Structures

While doing a Ethics for Engineer's subunit (a few months ago), I came up with the follow problem, and have been wondering about it since. As an Engineer, you may be asked to build a water treatment ...
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282 views

How to use Act-Utilitarianism

I have the following case: John Smith, M.D., is a psychiatrist with a private practice. He has been extremely successful in helping child-abusing parents. Many of his clients have sent him others; ...
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174 views

Philosophical school of thought that negative experiece levels are set for an individual?

Is there a philosophical school of thought that states (to some effect) the level of negative experience for each individual is set throughout a persons life time, regardless of the change in life ...
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Temporally stable determination of value in consequentialism

If one is a consequentialist, one at least implicitly makes decisions based on how good or bad the consequences are. As such, you must implicitly have a function f that maps from the set of ...
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Argument against Singer's analogy of the pond

Peter Singer gave a famous argument in Famine, Affluence and Morality that made an analogy between saving a drowning child in a pond at the expense of getting your clothes wet, and donating the ...
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Christmas Dilemma

The Christmas Dilemma: Suppose there are 2 children siblings and 3 Christmas presents. 2 Christmas presents have a value of $20 and 1 Christmas present has a value of $200. Each child can be given ...