Surveying the historical development and the present condition of utilitarian ethics, Geoffrey Scarre examines the major philosophers from Lao Tzu in the fifth century BC to Richard Hare in the twentieth. Utilitarianism traces the 'doctrine of utility' from the moralists of the ancient world, through the Enlightenment and Victorian utilitarianism up to the lively debate of the present day. Utilitarianism today faces challenges on several fronts: it cannot warrant the drawing of adequate protective boundaries around the essential interests of individuals, and it does not allow them the space to pursue the personal concerns which give meaning to their lives. Geoffrey Scarre considers these and other charges, and concludes that whilst utilitarianism may not be a faultless moral doctrine, its positions are relevant, and significant today. Written with undergraduates in mind, this is an ideal course book for those studying and those teaching moral philosophy.
Author: Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2017-07-27
In this Very Short Introduction Peter Singer and Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek provide an authoritative account of the nature of utilitarianism, from its nineteenth-century origins, to its justification and its varieties. Considering how utilitarians can respond to objections that are often regarded as devastating, they explore the utilitarian answer to the question of whether torture can ever be justified. They also discuss what it is that utilitarians should seek to maximize, paying special attention to the classical utilitarian view that only pleasure or happiness is of intrinsic value. Singer and de Lazari-Radek conclude by analysing the continuing importance of utilitarianism in the world, indicating how it is a force for new thinking on contemporary moral challenges like global poverty, the treatment of animals, climate change, reducing the risk of human extinction, end-of-life decisions for terminally-ill patients, and the shift towards assessing the success of government policies in terms of their impact on happiness.
Author: J. J. C. Smart
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 1973
Two essays on utilitarianism, written from opposite points of view, by J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams. In the first part of the book Professor Smart advocates a modern and sophisticated version of classical utilitarianism; he tries to formulate a consistent and persuasive elaboration of the doctrine that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined solely by their consequences, and in particular their consequences for the sum total of human happiness. In Part II Bernard Williams offers a sustained and vigorous critique of utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. He finds inadequate the theory of action implied by utilitarianism, and he argues that utilitarianism fails to engage at a serious level with the real problems of moral and political philosophy, and fails to make sense of notions such as integrity, or even human happiness itself. This book should be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists.
Author: John Stuart Mill
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Release Date: 2008-04-15
Including three of his most famous and important essays, Utilitarianism, On Liberty, and Essay on Bentham, along with formative selections from Jeremy Bentham and John Austin, this volume provides a uniquely perspicuous view of Mill's ethical and political thought. Contains Mill's most famous and influential works, Utilitarianism and On Liberty as well as his important Essay on Bentham. Uses the 1871 edition of Utilitarianism, the last to be published in Mill's lifetime. Includes selections from Bentham and John Austin, the two thinkers who most influenced Mill. Introduction written by Mary Warnock, a highly respected figure in 20th-century ethics in her own right. Provides an extensive, up-to-date bibliography with the best scholarship on Mill, Bentham and Utilitarianism.
Mill was one of the most important British philosophers of the nineteenth century; his Utilitarianism is a pivotal work in ethical thought. This book, written specifically for students coming to Mill - and perhaps philosophy - for the first time, will be an ideal guide. Mill on Utilitarianism introduces and assesses: * Mill's life and the background of Utilitarianism * the ideas and text of Utilitarianism * the continuing importance of Mill's work to philosophy This is the first book dedicated to Utilitarianism itself. Concisely written and engaging, it is perfect reading for those studying Mill or moral philosophy.
Author: Jeremy Bentham
Publisher: Penguin UK
Release Date: 2004-02-05
One of the most important nineteenth-century schools of thought, Utilitarianism propounds the view that the value or rightness of an action rests in how well it promotes the welfare of those affected by it, aiming for 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number'. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was the movement's founder, as much a social reformer as a philosopher. His greatest interpreter, John Stuart Mill (1806-73), set out to humanize Bentham's pragmatic Utilitarianism by balancing the claims of reason and the imagination, individuality and social well-being in essays such as 'Bentham', 'Coleridge' and, above all, Utilitarianism. The works by Bentham and Mill collected in this volume show the creation and development of a system of ethics that has had an enduring influence on moral philosophy and legislative policy.