View Poll Results: Utilitarianism

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  • A good moral philosophy

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Thread: Utilitarianism

  1. #11
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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Bear in mind, you can always "qualify" any moral philosophy into logical invincibility, which is basically what happens in Philosophy Departments worldwide. Generally, when you criticize a moral philosophy, you're criticizing something much more primal in human nature than logic. You're criticizing an attitude. A person can always redraw the parameters of their philosophy to include criticism, but it is harder to abandon their emotional convictions.
    Last edited by Morality Games; 04-23-11 at 06:39 PM.
    If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself, but be certain the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

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  2. #12
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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by Morality Games View Post
    Bear in mind, you can always "qualify" any moral philosophy into logical invincibility, which is basically what happens in Philosophy Departments worldwide. Generally, when you criticize a moral philosophy, you're criticizing something much more primal in human nature than logic. You're criticizing an attitude. A person can always redraw the parameters of their philosophy to include criticism, but it is harder to abandon their emotional convictions.
    Sorry, but I am not following. If you are meaning my qualifications, I tend to qualify every thought I have since I have yet to find a thought that is universally applicable (even though I may not always post those qualifications, but I tend to be very aware of the scope inherent in any concept)
    Last edited by tacomancer; 04-23-11 at 06:41 PM.

  3. #13
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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    Whereas I see many principals going ending up producing some rather evil effects when done in aggregate. Individualist philosophies (and to be honest all philosophies, but to a lesser degree (assuming one is taking human nature into account, otherwise all bets are off) tend to have problems with this.
    I think the potential evil is more of a good, it serves as an example to society of what not to do.
    I think all of humanity's improvements are built on graduated knowledge and that some amount of failure should be present to serve as the learning tool.
    I was discovering that life just simply isn't fair and bask in the unsung glory of knowing that each obstacle overcome along the way only adds to the satisfaction in the end. Nothing great, after all, was ever accomplished by anyone sulking in his or her misery.
    —Adam Shepard

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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    I think the potential evil is more of a good, it serves as an example to society of what not to do.
    I think all of humanity's improvements are built on graduated knowledge and that some amount of failure should be present to serve as the learning tool.
    Interesting idea. Odd, but interesting. Sorry, but there are any number of ways reasonably intelligent people can derive what is a useful or nonuseful approach, and experience is only one way and perhaps not even the best way, especially as human nature tends to change with culture, so people may react differently to what worked in the past.

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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    Interesting idea. Odd, but interesting. Sorry, but there are any number of ways reasonably intelligent people can derive what is a useful or nonuseful approach, and experience is only one way and perhaps not even the best way, especially as human nature tends to change with culture, so people may react differently to what worked in the past.
    Don't get me wrong, it isn't the only way but just 1 thing that should be present, because not all people learn the same way.

    Some actively take knowledge spread through education, some through visual observance, etc.
    I was discovering that life just simply isn't fair and bask in the unsung glory of knowing that each obstacle overcome along the way only adds to the satisfaction in the end. Nothing great, after all, was ever accomplished by anyone sulking in his or her misery.
    —Adam Shepard

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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    Don't get me wrong, it isn't the only way but just 1 thing that should be present, because not all people learn the same way.

    Some actively take knowledge spread through education, some through visual observance, etc.
    So, in other words, some should have to suffer, so that others may learn and do better? That could be very utilitarian In reality though, we have no way of knowing if the suffering of some, due to bad policy, will always translate into better policy in the future, so I am not sure if it would always work.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 04-23-11 at 06:56 PM.

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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    Sorry, but I am not following. If you are meaning my qualifications, I tend to qualify every thought I have since I have yet to find a thought that is universally applicable (even though I may not always post those qualifications, but I tend to be very aware of the scope inherent in any concept)
    I was more elaborating on the thought in my first post than speaking to you, specifically.

    If you want "generic" objections against utilitarianism, then here's some:

    There's the idea that utilitarian solutions do not satisfy the versatility of human psychology. Obama's relationship to the right-wing might provide an example. Since their ideology requires a dramatic contest of good versus evil (with themselves as good and liberalism as evil) there is no action Obama can perform which has positive consequential value for the right-wing. Human beings are also guilty and spiteful. The mere suspicion that someone is sacrificing themselves to make us happy can ruin any contentment we might find in their contribution. That others are making our happiness part of a plan (the cool calculation of which might diminish the aesthetic significance we find in our suffering) produces outrage that kills the success of the plan from the beginning.

    If humans are so complex we can find meaning in our suffering or moral depravity and will resist material or psychological improvement (not even out of principle, but out of spite), then utilitarianism is challenged.

    There's also the epistemological challenge. Since the cosmos is vast and human understanding is limited, we can never be sure which actions will produce happiness over long periods of time. You might save a woman from being run over by a car when later she will give birth to a tyrant who will sorely oppress his society. This challenge becomes greater when you factor in humanity's psychological versatility. How can you make any plans for the collective happiness when merely being part of the collective happiness will upset people somehow?

    The whole reason history has never tended toward a society run on utilitarian principles is because human nature resists the operation in many ways.
    Last edited by Morality Games; 04-23-11 at 07:02 PM.
    If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself, but be certain the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    So, in other words, some should have to suffer, so that others may learn and do better? That could be very utilitarian In reality though, we have no way of knowing if the suffering of some, due to bad policy, will always translate into better policy in the future, so I am not sure if it would always work.
    With the distinction that no one else is actively causing their suffering.
    It won't always work, in all situations but nothing is really universal like that.

    I don't think of it as suffering much, at least in the U.S. we have it pretty good, even the least among us.
    I was discovering that life just simply isn't fair and bask in the unsung glory of knowing that each obstacle overcome along the way only adds to the satisfaction in the end. Nothing great, after all, was ever accomplished by anyone sulking in his or her misery.
    —Adam Shepard

  9. #19
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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by Morality Games View Post
    I was more elaborating on the thought in my first post than speaking to you, specifically.
    Ok, sorry, I was having trouble seeing where you were going with your posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morality Games View Post
    If you want "generic" objections against utilitarianism, then here's some:

    There's the idea that utilitarian solutions do not satisfy the versatility of human psychology. Obama's relationship to the right-wing might provide an example. Since their ideology requires a dramatic contest of good versus evil (with themselves as good and liberalism as evil) there is no action Obama can perform which has positive consequential value for the right-wing. Human beings are also guilty and spiteful. The mere suspicion that someone is sacrificing themselves to make us happy can ruin any contentment we might find in their contribution. That others are making our happiness part of a plan (the cool calculation of which might diminish the aesthetic significance we find in our suffering) produces outrage that kills the success of the plan from the beginning.

    If humans are so complex we can find meaning in our suffering or moral depravity and will resist material or psychological improvement (not even out of principle, but out of spite), then utilitarianism is challenged.
    So in other words, some people are drama queens and want to be unhappy? If so, then that's fine. I don't think this philosophy works from a universal perspective anyway, but people tend to not work from a universal perspective since we are all finite creatures. Because of that, doing your best, can still be very utilitarian, even if its not a perfect action. However, in the end, if one believes that their actions will bring about more good then any other actions, then, while history's 20/20 view may prove them wrong in the end then they were probably acting reasonably. The crazy bomber who watches nothing but propaganda videos may feel he is doing good by blowing up some monument somewhere, but based on what he knew and to him, his actions were reasonable, this is probably the best we can expect out of anybody, even if it can let us down from time to time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morality Games View Post
    There's also the epistemological challenge. Since the cosmos is vast and human understanding is limited, we can never be sure which actions will produce happiness over long periods of time. You might save a woman from being run over by a car when later she will give birth to a tyrant who will sorely oppress his society. This challenge becomes greater when you factor in humanity's psychological versatility. How can you make any plans for the collective happiness when merely being part of the collective happiness will upset people somehow?
    Humans are not logically absolute creatures and there will always be the unknown. Because of this, a reasonable attempt at trying to do good can be very utilitarian, even if wouldn't work from a god's eyes perspective. Choosing actions on what we know vs what we don't know is a problem that I would imagine any philosophy suffers from.

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    Re: Utilitarianism

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    With the distinction that no one else is actively causing their suffering.
    It won't always work, in all situations but nothing is really universal like that.

    I don't think of it as suffering much, at least in the U.S. we have it pretty good, even the least among us.
    That word "actively" can be pretty tricky. Often we can cause suffering of another without realizing it, its a big problem that can be hard for people to get their minds around. However, other than that minor point, I agree. Generally with people, we tend to do a logical shorthand and say "well, x action did good in the past, I will do it again" I do it all the time and not always reason something out from scratch (I simply don't have the time or energy!). However, we should be careful and never assume that it will always work or that human nature is fixed (I believe some of human nature is fixed and some is very fluid and can even change daily). What is a good action in one society may be very detrimental in another.

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