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Hedonic Calculations

Apply the Hedonic Calculus of Jeremy Benthams Utilitarianism to the following dilemmas
The brakes of the train that Casey Jones is
driving have just failed. There are five people
on the track ahead of the train. There is no
way that they can get off the track before the
train hits them. The track has a siding leading
off to the right, and Casey can hit a button to
direct the train onto it. Unfortunately, there is
a small child stuck on the siding. Casey can
turn the train, killing one person; or he can
allow the train to continue onwards, killing
five people. He turns the train and the small
child dies.

Intensity
Duration
Certainty
Nearness
Repetition
Purity
Extent

TOTAL
SCORE:
/70

The brakes of the train that Casey Jones is


driving have just failed. There are five people
Intensity
on the track ahead of the train. There is no
Duration
way that they can get off the track before the Certainty
train hits them. The track has a siding leading Nearness
off to the right, and Casey can hit a button to
Repetition
direct the train onto it. Unfortunately, there is Purity
a small child stuck on the siding. Casey can
Extent
TOTAL SCORE:
turn the train, killing one person; or he can
/70
allow the train to continue onwards, killing
five people. He doesnt turn the train and 5
people die.
What should Casey do, according to the Utilitarian Hedonic Calculus?
Do you agree? Why?

Marty is on a footbridge above the train


tracks. He can see that the train approaching
the bridge is out of control, and that it is
going to hit five people who are stuck on the
track just past the bridge. The only way to
stop the train is to drop a heavy weight into
its path. The only available heavy enough
weight is a (very) fat man, who is also
watching the train from the footbridge. Marty
pushes the fat man onto the track into the
path of the train killing him but saving the
five people already on the track.
Marty is on a footbridge above the train
tracks. He can see that the train approaching
the bridge is out of control, and that it is
going to hit five people who are stuck on the
track just past the bridge. The only way to
stop the train is to drop a heavy weight into
its path. The only available heavy enough
weight is a (very) fat man, who is also
watching the train from the footbridge. Marty
allows the train to continue on its way,
meaning that the five will die

Intensity
Duration
Certainty
Nearness
Repetition
Purity
Extent
TOTAL SCORE
/70

Intensity
Duration
Certainty
Nearness
Repetition
Purity
Extent

TOTAL SCORE
/70

What should Marty do, according to the Utilitarian Hedonic Calculus?


Do you agree? Why?

This scenario is identical to the preceding scenario


but with one crucial difference. This time Marty
knows with absolute certainty that the fat man on
the bridge is responsible for the failure the train's
brakes: upset by train fare increases, he
sabotaged the brakes with the intention of causing
an accident. As before, the only way to stop the
train and save the lives of the five people already
on the track is to push the fat saboteur off the
bridge into the path of the train. So Marty does.
This scenario is identical to the preceding scenario
but with one crucial difference. This time Marty
knows with absolute certainty that the fat man on
the bridge is responsible for the failure the train's
brakes: upset by train fare increases, he
sabotaged the brakes with the intention of causing
an accident. As before, the only way to stop the
train and save the lives of the five people already
on the track is to push the fat saboteur off the
bridge into the path of the train. Marty doesnt.

Intensity
Duration
Certainty
Nearness
Repetition
Purity
Extent

Intensity
Duration
Certainty
Nearness
Repetition
Purity
Extent

What should Marty do, according to the Utilitarian Hedonic Calculus?


Do you agree? Why?

What do you think of the Hedonic Calculus?


Why?

Does this mean that Utilitarianism is a good/ bad theory? Explain.

REMEMBER:
Intensity how intense will the happiness be?
Duration how long will the happiness last?
Certainty how certain are you it will lead to
happiness?
Nearness how close to you is this happiness?
Repetition how well will this happiness produce
more happiness?
Purity is the happiness the kind that will hurt others?
Extent how many people will this happiness affect?