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HEDONISM AND

UTILITARIANISM AS
TELEOLOGICAL-
CONSEQUENTIALIST SY STEMS
REFERENCE:

NOTE: Before studying this detailed PPT, you ought to read


the reference below:

Palmer, Donald. Does the Center Hold? An Introduction to


Western Philosophy (Second Edition). Op.Cit. ; pp. 252-264,
355-367, 341-346.
UTILITARIANISM AS
SOCIAL HEDONISM
It was mentioned that Hobbes
egoism is a form of Hedonism,
which is the view either that
human action is motivated by the
pursuit of pleasure or that it ought
to be.
O (Hobbes view) a theory of Motivation.
O Claims that hedonism is the only possibility, cant be a
thorough-going moral view. The most it could do as a
moral theory is to advocate kinds of acts as being more
wise than others (i.e., as bringing more pleasure than
others).
O a theory about how we

ought to live.
O Presupposes that it is NOT to do so but that
NOT doing so is UNWISE. Logically committed
to admit that it is possible to act motivated by
interests other than our own pleasure, but it
claims that doing so is a bad idea -> somehow
immoral to do so.
EPICURUS (341-270 B.C.)
O Most prominent hedonists
in his time but was not able
to distinctions between the
two forms of hedonism.
O Ancients did not always
conceive ethics the way we
do. They were Platonic-like
quest, looking for the
GOOD.
O Epicurus thought that this
GOOD was PLEASURE.
FOR IT IS TO OBTAIN THIS END
THAT WE ALWAYS ACT, NAMELY,
TO AVOID PAIN AND FEAR
AND FOR THIS CAUSE WE CALL
PLEASURE THE BEGINNING AND
THE END OF THE BLESSED LIFE.
There are two kinds of desires, hence two
kinds of pleasure as result of gratifying
those desires:
O Natural Desire
O Necessary (desire for food and sleep)
O Unnecessary (desire for sex)

O Vain Desire
(desire for decorative clothing or exotic food)
O Natural necessary desires
must be satisfied and are easy
to satisfy. They result in a
good deal of pleasure and in
very few painful consequences

O Vain desires do not need to be


satisfied and are not easy to
satisfy. Because there are no
natural limits to them, they
tend to become obsessive and
lead to very painful
consequences.
O The desire for sex
is natural but can usually
be overcome.
O When it can be, it should
be because satisfaction of
the sexual drive gives
intense pleasure but
involves one in
relationships that are
ultimately painful than
pleasant and are often
extremely painful.
O Epicurus subscribes to the most traditional Greek
values (beauty, prudence, honor, courage, justice, and
honesty) BUT only because he believed that holding
them led to more pleasure than pain.

O However, Epicurus thought that rejecting JUSTICE,


PRUDENCE and HONOR would result to unpleasant
relations with other people and a guilty conscience.
What about those of the likes of a sociopath, a sadist who are
motivated not by a desire for virtue but by the advantages of the
appearance of virtue and who have no guilty conscience? Are they
necessarily unhappy than the virtuous?
A historical connection exists between Epicurus
hedonism and a very influential moral theory
called utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism was essentially a British


phenomenon, a philosophy based on empirical
investigation, hedonism, and the association of
ideas and a liberal and humane approach to
political and economic affairs.

The utilitarians were a group of writers, politicians,
administrators whom Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), James
Mill(1773-1836), and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) are the
leading figures.
The fundamental principle was that men, acting in their own
self-interest, sought pleasure and avoided pain, the 2 qualities
that determine behavior.
The utility of anything, therefore, depended on its
contribution to the first and its avoidance of the latter.
Bentham, may not have
been the deepest
philosophers in the
Western tradition, was
certainly one of the most
practically oriented and
influential.
He had an active hand in
the reformation of the
British legal system of his
day.
O By utility is meant that property in any object,
whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage,
pleasure, good or happiness and to prevent
happening of mischief, pain, evil or unhappiness to
the party whose interest is considered.
O The interest of the community is one of the most
general expressions of pleasure. A community is a
fictitious body composed of individual persons
who constitute as it were its members.

Communitys interest = sum-total of


the interests of the several members who compose
it.
CALCULUS OF FELICITY
O Benthams advice was articulated
in what he called the calculus of
felicity.
O FELICITY = great happiness; bliss.
O According to it, pleasure can be
catalogued into seven categories,
and this catalogue provides a
rational analysis of pleasure.
The 7 categories:
O INTENSITY how intense?
O DURATION how long?
O CERTAINTY how sure?
O PROPINQUITY how soon?
O FECUNDITY how many more?
O PURITY how free from pain?
O EXTENT how many people are
affected?
According to Bentham, whenever you consider performing
any action, you can analyze its value in terms of these
"categories and contrast it with its alternatives. (Ex:
BEACH GUILT)
Going to the Beach with friends Studying for CHEMISTRY exam
(most glorious day of the year) (tomorrow)
1. Intense fun with friends 2. long-term happiness
5. If you ace the exam, you have
3. Very sure that happiness will
more opportunities of becoming
come.
happy.
4. Happiness will come as soon as 7. If you study and ace the exam,
you hit the beach with friends. mom and dad will be happy.
6. All FUN! FUN! Pain-free
Are the assets of studying strong enough to overcome its deficits in
the face of the fun enticing you to the beach?
Of course, the guilt you would experience at
the beach has to be taken into consideration,
too.
Bentham thought that his calculus of felicity was actually the
schematization of something we do semiconsciously (hence often
poorly) anyway and that once we become experienced in
manipulating these figures; we would be able to do it intuitively.

O In category 7: EXTENT, it is in this category that


makes utilitarianism a form of social hedonism.
One must consider the pleasure and pains of of
others and not only ones own.
O Besides the social aspect of utilitarianism, there is
also a democratic bias built into it- When it comes
to evaluating acts in terms of the pleasure they
will produce, Bentham firmly believed one
person, one vote principle. Each persons
judgment is as important as every others.
PREJUDICE APART, THE GAME OF PUSH-
PIN IS OF EQUAL VALUE WITH THE ARTS
AND SCIENCES OF MUSIC AND POETRY.
IF THE GAME OF PUSH-PIN FURNISHES
MORE PLEASURE, IT IS MORE VALUABLE
THAN EITHER.
The greatest systematic criticism
of utilitarianism came from John
Stuart Mill. John thought of
himself as a disciple of Bentham,
but was clearly concerned about
the implications some of
Benthams formulations of
utilitarianism had.

Against the utilitarian thesis, Mill


argued that life had more
important ends than simply the
pursuit of pleasure. Moreover,
not all pleasures are equally
valuable the factor ignored in
felicific calculus was quality.
Mill feared than an
adherent of the calculus of
felicity might conclude that
push-pin (or watching
football on TV) is better
than the arts and
sciences(reading
Shakespearian sonnets), and
Mill knew in his heart that
this is simply not the case.
Problem: the calculus generates a
purely quantitative analysis, and Mill
was convinced that quality in pleasure
was even more important than quantity.
What if youre offered the following proposition to
the electorate of a particular state:
It has been determined that the teaching of
Shakespearian in the schools of this state costs
each taxpayer $25 each five years. The state
would like to know if you would prefer to
continue paying $25 per person for the next 5
years for Shakespeare lessons or would you
rather prefer a rebate of the $25 in the form of
2 cases of beer per voter?
Quality of Pleasure
O Mill was afraid that given the tenuous foothold
that culture has among the masses and given
Benthams one person, one vote principle, acts
with that he believed would be of more quality
would lose out.
O In order to counteract the possibility of leveling
down of culture, Mill insisted on the fact that it
was part of our human heritage to have desires
higher than those that lent themselves to analysis
in terms of the calculus of felicity.
Mills objection is perhaps summed up in his famous line:

THE UNCULTIVATED CANNOT BE


COMPETENT JUDGES OF CULTIVATION
If one must base competence before
one is granted a vote, then on many
issues, only a small minority will have
the right to express an opinion (best
educated, wealthiest, most powerful
segment of the society).

Whoever supposes that this preference


takes place at a sacrifice of happiness
that the superior being, in anything
like equal circumstances, is not happier
than the inferior confounds the 2 very
different ideas of happiness and
content.
It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment
are low has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied;
and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness
which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect.
But he can learn to bear is imperfections, if they are bearable;
and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed
unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels
not all the goof which those imperfections qualify.

IT IS BETTER TO BE SOCRATES
DISSATISFIED THAN A FOOL SATISFIED
the fool only know their own side of the question and the other
party to the comparison knows both.
PROBLEMS OF UTILITARIANISM-
O It appears that morality must essentially have
something to do with promoting happiness and well-
being while minimizing unhappiness and misery.
O It would be very odd to think that some act was good
even though it brought nothing unhappiness and misery
to absolutely everybody. Still some serious problems
arise like its consequentialist nature (has to be dealt
with shortly), and he other has to do with the notions of
justice and meritoriousness.
O ACT UTILITARIANISM contends that we should act so as to
produce the greatest amount of happiness for the most
people. In other words, before acting, ask yourself this: What
will be the consequences of my action? If the consequences
are good, the actions is right; if they are bad, then the action is
wrong. For act utilitarian, THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS.
O RULE UTILITARIANISM- in contemplating one of two acts, a
person should perform that act governed by a (hypothetical)
rule whose general obedience would produce the greatest
amount of happiness. Ethicist point out that we get into so
many dilemmas when we apply the greatest happiness
principle to a particular act rather than to the general rule that
the act implements. What we should be concerned with is
following the rules that have the best consequences, not with
carrying out that has the best consequences.
Some Implications...
O An act is GOOD or BAD only in terms of its
CONSEQUENCES.
O Acts that result in happiness, well-being, and flourishing
are good; acts that result in the opposite are bad. We also
feel that some acts those performed out of moral duty
are right independent of their moral consequences.
ON SEX - -
Are some forms of sex like adultery, incest, extramarital sex
morally deficient or are there limits to what is morally
permissible in sex?

RULE UTILITARIANISM
ACT UTILITARIANISM: Focuses on broader social effects more explicitly
Any action is morally permissible, if it and asses whether the long term social
produces greater pleasure than pain. consequences of moral rules that permits these
activities might harm or benefit society.

Ramsey Colloqium: Moral doctrines that allow


Richard Taylor: Since extramarital affairs divorce, homosexuality, and adultery are harmful
based on love can often produce more good to the society.
than harm for a married person, therefore These kinds of relationships should not be
they are morally justified. socially recognize as morally equivalent to
marriage and a family.

BUT IS THIS CORRECT?? How are we to know


This approach to sex would seem to rule
exactly what the significant future consequences
out only sexual acts that clearly involve
of our moral rules or our individual actions will
harmful violence or great risk of harm.
be?
When seen in a wider perspective, sexual
activities like incest, is condemned wrongful
because of its harmful wider effects to the
individual and, thus, to the society.

UTILITARIAN
MORALITY-
urges one to look beyond the immediate pleasure and
look at the effects of our actions to the society and to
the future. When seen in a wider perspective, sexual
activities like incest, is condemned wrongful because of
its harmful wider effects to the individual and, thus, to
the society.
The problem of justice and
meritoriousness:
CASE 1:
The problem of justice
and meritoriousness:

CASE 2:
O UTILITARIANISM GIVES IMMENSE
EMPHASIS ON THE CONSEQUENCE OF
THE ACT RATHER THAN THE ACT ITSELF.
O BUT, IT RUNS TO THE INTUITION OF THE
MANY THAT SOME ACTS, LIKE WANTON
CRUELTY, ARE BAD IN ITSELF
REGARDLESS OF THE CONSEQUENCES.
O ANOTHER IS THE ACT PERFORMED ON
MORAL DUTY ARE RIGHT INDEPENDENT
OF THEIR MORAL CONSEQUENCES.