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: Harlan B. Miller
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
The Limits of Utilitarianism was first published in 1982. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. Many philosophers have argued that utilitarianism is an unacceptable moral theory and that promoting the general welfare is at best only one of the legitimate goals of public policy. Utilitarian principles seem to place no limits on the extent to which society may legitimately interfere with a person's liberties - provided that such actions can be shown to promote the long-term welfare of its members. These issues have played a central role in discussions of utilitarianism since the time of Bentham and Mill. Despite criticisms, utilitarianism remains the most influential and widely accepted moral theory of recent times. In this volume contemporary philosophers address four aspects of utilitarianism: the principle of utility; utilitarianism vis-à-vis contractarianism; welfare; and voluntary cooperation and helping others. The editors provide an introduction and a comprehensive bibliography that covers all books and articles published in utilitarianism since 1930.
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: James E. Crimmins
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date: 2017-01-26
The idea of utility as a value, goal or principle in political, moral and economic life has a long and rich history. Now available in paperback, The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism captures the complex history and the multi-faceted character of utilitarianism, making it the first work of its kind to bring together all the various aspects of the tradition for comparative study. With more than 200 entries on the authors and texts recognised as having built the tradition of utilitarian thinking, it covers issues and critics that have arisen at every stage. There are entries on Plato, Epicurus, and Confucius and progenitors of the theory like John Gay and David Hume, together with political economists, legal scholars, historians and commentators. Cross-referenced throughout, each entry consists of an explanation of the topic, a bibliography of works and suggestions for further reading. Providing fresh juxtapositions of issues and arguments in utilitarian studies and written by a team of respected scholars, The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism is an authoritative and valuable resource.
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.
Author: James Wood Bailey
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 1997-09-04
Genre: Political Science
This compelling book advances utilitarianism as the basis for a viable public philosophy, effectively rebutting the common charge that, as moral doctrine, utilitarian thought permits cruel acts, justifies unfair distribution of wealth, and demands too much of moral agents. James Wood Bailey defends utilitarianism through novel use of game theory insights regarding feasible equilibria and evolutionary stability, elaborating a sophisticated account of institutions that real-world utilitarians would want to foster. If utilitarianism seems in principle to dictate that we make each and every choice such that it leads to the best consequences overall, game theory emphasizes that no choice has consequences in isolation, but only in conjunction with many other choices of other agents. Viewing institutions as equilibria in complex games, Bailey negotiates the paradox of individual responsibilities, arguing that if individuals within institutions have specific responsibilities they cannot get from the principle of utility alone, the utility principle nevertheless holds great value in that it allows us to identify morally desirable institutions. Far from recommending cruel acts, utilitarianism, understood this way, actually runs congruent to our basic moral intuitions. A provocative attempt to support the practical use of utilitarian ethics in a world of conflicting interests and competing moral agents, Bailey's book employs the work of social scientists to tackle problems traditionally given abstract philosophical attention. Vividly illustrating its theory with concrete moral dilemmas and taking seriously our moral common sense, Utilitarianism, Institutions, and Justice is an accessible, groundbreaking work that will richly reward students and scholars of political science, political economy, and philosophy.
Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics explores the foundations of early utilitarianism and, at the same time, the theoretical bases of social ethics and policy in modern Western welfare states. Matti Hayry sees the main reason for utilitarianism's growing disrepute among moral philosophers is that its principles cannot legitimately be extended to situations where the basic needs of the individuals involved are in conflict. He is able to formulate a solution to this fundamental problem by arguing convincingly that by combining a limited version of liberal utilitarianism and the methods of applied ethics, we are able to define our moral duties and rights. Liberal Utilitarianism and Applied Ethics will appeal to students and teachers of philosophy who are interested in the doctrine of utilitarianism or in ethical decison-making.