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Questions tagged [utilitarianism]

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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Is the tyrannicide perpetrated by William Tell morally legitimate?

I have recently been reading Friedrich Schiller's fantastic Drama William Tell, in which he not only relates the folkloric-mythological origin of Switzerland upon its liberation from the yoke of the ...
Dr. Mathva's user avatar
29 votes
12 answers
11k views

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 ...
Dave's user avatar
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Are Life and Intelligence analogous?

Let me explain what I mean. From the standpoint of biology, life is often defined by having a metabolism, the ability to reproduce, evolve, etc. (There is no single definition so far as I can tell.) ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
885 views

Does antinatalism carry the seeds of its own destruction?

Antinatalists claim that it is immoral to procreate. For instance: David Benatar argues there is an asymmetry between pleasure and pain, which means it would be better for humans not to have ...
christo183's user avatar
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13 votes
6 answers
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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 ...
Computernerd's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
Alexander S King's user avatar
3 votes
5 answers
467 views

Aggregate utility and the sadistic theatre

Situation A: 12-year-old Emma leads a happy life and gains U > 0 utility. Situation B: Emma is continually raped and tortured for an online audience of consumers of sadistic child pornography. She ...
user76284's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
477 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 ...
syntonicC's user avatar
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13 answers
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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 ...
David Zhang's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
378 views

What is the justification for averaging utility in utilitarianism?

Every time I have heard utilitarianism discussed, it is generally assumed that utility should be averaged. While this sounds reasonable, the reasoning isn't particularly strong. What justifications ...
Casebash's user avatar
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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 ...
PunkZebra's user avatar
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8 answers
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Is it possible for morality to exist?

I used to be fairly convinced that morality existed - because of the numerous different ethical systems available, I was sure that even if I did not know which system was right, that morality, in some,...
Harith Menon's user avatar
22 votes
8 answers
8k views

Is it ethical to convince someone to get vaccinated?

I'm currently writing about the ethics of vaccinations, and I have two long-standing concerns about the matter. "Is refusing vaccination a morally justifiable position?" will be my question. ...
Ericleast992's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
665 views

Are all ethical systems consequentialist?

Quoting Milton Friedman here "If the end does not justify the means, what does? But this easy answer does not dispose of the objection; it simply shows that the objection is not well put. To ...
user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
450 views

Resolving weighting conflicts in preference utilitarianism

Assuming we're dealing with the actions of two people based on the preferences of two non overlapping sets of affected people, other than the number of people, which methods are available to resolve ...
Stefano Palazzo's user avatar
6 votes
11 answers
6k views

What are valid rebuttals to utilitarianism?

From Britannica, utilitarianism is an ethics concept in which an action (or type of action) is right if it tends to promote happiness or pleasure and wrong if it tends to produce unhappiness or pain—...
megamonster68's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
593 views

Is there a quantitative model of Bentham's Hedonic Calculus?

Jeremy Bentham, in Chapter 4 of his 1781 An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, defines what has become known as the Hedonic Calculus. He states, Pleasures then, and the ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
310 views

In utilitarianism, is it better to give 1000 units of happiness to 1 person, or 100 units each to 10 people?

Assume that we have a way of quantifying happiness, and assume that all the people mentioned are equally well-off (not that the second point matters, I don't think). I know what the answer would be if ...
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5 answers
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How might we define morality or ethics such that we can program it into an Artificial Intelligence?

With the speed at which AI is being developed, there is a pressing need to develop a clear system of morality that we might have an Artificial Intelligence operate from. In my understanding, there ...
xeagu's user avatar
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2 votes
3 answers
389 views

Physicalistic alternatives to utilitarianism?

In one episode, Doctor Who finds out he's trapped on a horror-like island and he finds out his time machine he could escape with is frozen in the hardest rock on earth. He also finds out that every ...
Probably's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
352 views

Is it philosophically tenable to refuse a universal moral system?

Recently, I advocated utilitarianism based on consciousness on Change my View subreddit and I was quite suprised by the opposition against the bare idea of a universal moral system. From my limited ...
Probably's user avatar
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Can the Christian God be a Utilitarian?

I've been entertaining the idea that the Christian God might be utilitarian, after noticing many correlations between things that the Christian God commands or desires and things that promote ...
Mark's user avatar
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1 answer
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Do intentions play part in objective morality?

This question has been asked similarly a few times, but I don't really understand the answers, and maybe I won't this time. And they don't seem to relate to objective morality. If we take the stance ...
Chris Wohlert's user avatar