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: 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.
Author: John Stuart Mill
Publisher: Hackett Publishing
Release Date: 2002-03-08
This expanded edition of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism includes the text of his 1868 speech to the British House of Commons defending the use of capital punishment in cases of aggravated murder. The speech is significant both because its topic remains timely and because its arguments illustrate the applicability of the principle of utility to questions of large-scale social policy.
Utilitarianism is the ethical theory advanced by Jeremy Bentham, J.S. Mill, and Henry Sidgwick and has contributed significantly to contemporary moral and political philosophy. Yet it is not without controversy and is a subject that students can often find particularly perplexing. Utilitarianism: A Guide for the Perplexed offers a concise, yet fully comprehensive introduction to utilitarianism, its historical roots, key themes, and current debates. Krister Bykvist provides a survey of the modern debate about utilitarianism and goes on to evaluate utilitarianism in comparison with other theories, in particular virtue ethics and Kantianism. Bykvist offers a critical examination of utilitarianism, distinguishing problems that are unique to utilitarianism from those that are shared by other moral theories. Focusing on the problems unique to utilitarianism, the book provides a well-balanced assessment of where the theory goes astray and is in need of revision. Geared towards the specific requirements of students who need to reach a sound understanding of utilitarianism, this book serves as an ideal companion to study of this influential and challenging of philosophical concepts.
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.
In this book, first published in 1991, the author Dr Robin Barrow adopts the view that utilitarianism is the most coherent and persuasive ethical theory we have and argues in favour of a specific form of rule-utilitarianism. This book will be of interest to students of philosophy.
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.
The classical utilitarian legacy of Jeremy Bentham, J. S. Mill, James Mill, and Henry Sidgwick has often been charged with both theoretical and practical complicity in the growth of British imperialism and the emerging racialist discourse of the nineteenth century. But there has been little scholarly work devoted to bringing together the conflicting interpretive perspectives on this legacy and its complex evolution with respect to orientalism and imperialism. This volume, with contributions by leading scholars in the field, represents the first attempt to survey the full range of current scholarly controversy on how the classical utilitarians conceived of 'race' and the part it played in their ethical and political programs, particularly with respect to such issues as slavery and the governance of India. The book both advances our understanding of the history of utilitarianism and imperialism and promotes the scholarly debate, clarifying the major points at issue between those sympathetic to the utilitarian legacy and those critical of it.