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Recall: Under Utilitarianism Actions are judged right or wrong solely in virtue of their consequences.

In assessing consequences, the only thing that matters is the amount of happiness or unhappiness that is caused. Everything else is irrelevant. Third, in calculating happiness, no one person’s happiness is to be counted as more important than anyone else’s. As we’ve seen, the theory has come under severe scrutiny, yet as Rachel’s points out, it has a remarkable resilience—people still believe it. Defenders of Utilitarianism often suggest that the criticisms of the theory should not lead us to abandon it, but rather to modify it a bit. …That in principle the theory has a hold on the basic truth of the matter. (We’ll get to a few of these suggestions) 8.2 Classical act utilitarianism says that the only ultimate good is happiness, and that happiness consists in the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain. Happiness is the only thing desirable as an end. From this we see Utilitarianism is a Hedonistic theory, claiming (according to Rachels): Things are to be regarded as good or bad on the basis of how they make us feel. So, Rachels is going to bring this claim under question. Read the example of the pianist #1 on 104. Ask: what is Rachels getting at? He’s trying to point out that it is not merely pleasure that we care about, but actual things that we regard as valuable in themselves apart from the pleasure they may bring. Read #2 and the next two ensuing paragraphs. Distinguish: His point: happiness is not to be regarded as THE GOOD But rather happiness is a resultant condition of having attained things we regard as good in themselves. So, Rachels points out that not many people are hedonists these days, because they recognize this distinction. So, some Utilitarians (like Moore) have extended the class of things that are ‘goods’ beyond mere pleasure: friendship, aesthetic enjoyment. Other Utilitarians have modified the theory to say that we should act so as to maximize people’s preferences. (In this way they modify the hedonistic claim without abandoning the theory.)

8.3 Another concern: Are consequences all that matter when determining right and wrong? Rachels points out that, while Utilitarianism can be modified in the above way, getting rid of strict hedonism, it cannot abandon the claim that only consequences matter in determining an action, and remain utilitarianism. The claim that consequences are all that matter is an absolutely necessary component to utilitarianism, and if it is abandoned, whatever you are dealing with—it is not utilitarianism. So, the most serious attacks against the theory are leveled at just this point. Take a look at the cases on 106 and 107. Read number 1 on page 106. Discuss Read 2 discuss Read 2.5 (Imaginary case) discuss. The point of 2.5 is that Utilitarianism has no way to recognize individual rights as persons. (In the above case, it was Ms. York’s right to privacy.) #3. Does anyone recall what’s going on in this part of the essay? (Recall the example, you made a promise to a friend, and later decided to break it based on considerations of utility—your pleasure in breaking the promise you decide outweighs the inconvenience you will cause your friend in not keeping your word. ) What’s the point? Utilitarianism can be thus criticized because it is a theory that is only concerned about the future results of actions, and does not concern itself with past facts. Utilitarianism makes the past irrelevant. (That fact that Joe committed the murder is not what we take into account, but rather the future happiness that might result from incarcerating him or letting him go free.) Defense: Ist line of Defense: Point out that antiutiliarians make their case with arguments about cases that don’t occur in the real world. (What would Hare have said about this?... How about Rachels?) Let’s find out: Read first paragraph in “The second line of Defense.” The second line of Defense:

A problem with the theory each individual action was to be evaluated by reference to its own particular consequences. This brings circumstances in which we could find people doing things that are objectionable (like lying). So, some utilitarians propose that rather than determining acts based on individual consequences, we can determine based on general rules about what tends to best promote happiness, and evaluate actions according to these rules. So, take the lying example. We know that in general lying does not maximize utility, so we refer all general actions against a rule that is based on this consideration, That rule says, “Don’t lie.” Act Utilitarianism: Individual acts are right which, in their circumstances, happen to promote the greatest amount of happiness. (If lying results in more immediate happiness given the circumstance in question, then lying is the right thing to do.) Rule Utilitarianism: Acts are right insofar as they conform to general rules of conduct that tend to promote the greatest happiness. (Lying is not permissible, because as a general rule it is not the kind of conduct that tends to most often promote the greatest amount of happiness.

So, what do you think about this? Does this help the theory? Is this still essentially Utilitarianism? Rachels seems to think there is a lot of success to this type of thinking. (Some people think that rule utilitarianism is collapsible into act utilitarianism.) Defense 3: So what. (Read JJC Smart paragraph). He rejects our moral intuitions. (Note: some people would say that things are written in our consciences by God, Saint Paul in Romans makes this appeal to basic intuitions. Smart says, whatever.) 8.5 What is correct and what incorrect about the theory? Consequences are important. They do matter…but are they the ONLY thing that matters? Are there other considerations that we must recognize to determine the moral worth of an action? What about individual desert? Can Utilitarianism say anything for giving to each his own? In other words, can Utilitarianism allow for justice…people getting their due? (Which is the definition that you get in the Republic…the having and doing of one’s own.) This is Rachels’ last worry…