Archive for the ‘utilitarianism’ Category

(utilitarianism)…could justify horrendous acts as being for the pleasure of the many

November 14, 2009

(utilitarianism)…could justify horrendous acts as being for the pleasure of the many.

A Macintyre, Short History of Ethics, 1967, p.238

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I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty is that I don’t like it

September 26, 2009

I am not satisfied with what I have read or said on the philosophical basis of ethics. I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of ethical values but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty is that I don’t like it. I have no difficulty in practical moral judgments, which I find I make on a roughly hedonistic [i.e. utilitarian] basis, but, when it comes to the philosophy of moral judgments, I am impelled in two opposite directions and remain perplexed.

Bertrand Russell, in Ray Monk, vol.2, replying to D.H. Monro’s critical essay on ‘Russell’s Moral Theories’, 1960

This is a fancy, philosophical way of saying, ‘I have no reason to reject relativism but something within me doesn’t like it.’ In other words, his philosophy couldn’t explain his moral impulses.

The Reforms of British Imperialism

August 30, 2009

Lord Bentinck tried to rein in some of the more unpalatable of Indian traditions; ritual murder (Thuggee), female infanticide, widow burning (suttee) and slavery. At the time, it seemed as if many Indians supported these aims. With hindsight, it would appear that they deeply resented tampering with traditions that went back thousands of years, however unpalatable those traditions might have been. They perceived British tampering in their social order as proof that the British wished to forcibly convert Hindus and Muslims alike to Christianity. British utilitarian reforming zeal combined with increasing Christian missionary activity helped to form this unlikely alliance of Hindu and Muslim sepoys (in the 1857 Indian Mutiny).

source

The relativist would say that ritual murder (Thuggee), female infanticide, widow burning (suttee) and slavery are ‘true’ for the Indians and it is cultural imperialism to interfer with these ‘ancient traditions’ (as if mere perpetual custom makes an action morally good).

Happiness – feelings defining right and wrong

August 25, 2009

When people make personal happiness their highest priority, they are effectively using their feelings to define for themselves what is good and bad in their lives. This process of inventing an ethical standard is even more apparent when people attempt to construct collective standards of well-being, as in Utilitarianism, based on the happiness felt by a number of people.

Ben Cooper, After the Wind, Kategoria 13, p.23