Manual Utilitarianism: For and Against

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  1. Utilitarianism: For and Against
  2. J. J. C. Smart & Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism: For and Against - PhilPapers
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Utilitarianism by J. For and Against by J. A serious and controversial work in which the authors contribute essays from opposite points of view on utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. Paperback , pages. Published January 1st by Cambridge University Press. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Utilitarianism: For and Against

Apr 15, Parinaz added it Shelves: Aug 15, Nat rated it liked it Shelves: Williams loathes utilitarianism, which gives his attack some verve, but his attack seems totally inconclusive. He does manage to show that utilitarianism would, in extreme situations, have counter-intuitive consequences, and that it is very demanding.

Any utilitarian would be happy to admit as much. He doesn't show what he tries to, that utilitarianism makes agency unintelligible. The last line of the essay expresses a hope that we wo I wonder: The last line of the essay expresses a hope that we won't hear about utilitarianism for much longer. That reveals that Williams underestimates how deep utilitarian thinking runs in the modern world. May 08, Lea rated it really liked it Shelves: I'm taking a university class on this book, so this was a first reading and I'll slowly and carefully re-read it over the course of this semester.

Let me just already say that Williams hate for utilitarianism is just as entertaining as it's misguided. I'm almost looking forward to my final paper on this now I will regret writing this sentence, once I'm actually working on it, obviously. Feb 13, Millie Muroi rated it liked it Shelves: I was contemplating how to introduce this book and recount a recent encounter with Caitlin.

J. J. C. Smart & Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism: For and Against - PhilPapers

So as I was saying, I ran into Caitlin at - would you believe it? As I disembark at the car park, I think I recognise that distinctive cat walk. Caitlin is making her approach towards the Indiana. I postpone my soccer training for a chance to chat. We walk for a bit. I have the pleasure of meeting the female-engineer with her daughter beneath the shade of a Norfolk pine but alas, have little more time to talk Philosophy with this honours student. And so I content myself with arguably taking the Utilitarian action: I am an enthusiast of Philosophy as an art - pretty uneducated thus far, but intrigued by it nonetheless.

Please never ask me about any of it, because I have a very, very limited understanding of how the arguments go. Utilitarianism For and Against - as its name suggests - provides both sides of an ethical theory that stems back at least to the 18th and 19th century. Whilst I largely agree with J. Smart provides a very clear and solid set of arguments for Utilitarianism, while remaining open to its criticisms.

He establishes his position as an adherent of act-Utilitarianism and wavering ideal utilitarian. On the other hand we have Bernard Williams who quite effectively rebuts the propositions made by utilitarians with Smart at the vanguard. This, Bernard argues, leads to alienation of a person from their own moral identity and integrity - a fair point that does make one rethink their position in support of Utilitarianism. From this vantage point, in my peripheral vision, I see Caitlin walking along the shore with her mum. The sun is just setting and she looks relaxed and happy in her black dress.

From a good m away I can see the waves lap up to meet her, the wind blowing through her hair. Her movements are smooth, unhurried and graceful - maybe they are the sum of millions of neural transmissions that could be charted and calculated. It surprised me somewhat when I discovered a series of equations integrated into this Philosophical study.

It can quantify a concept down to a selection of curves and straight edges, placed in some resemblance of logical order. But I still think about those symbols, printed onto the page, a place where moral and ethical thought meet mathematics.

Coincidental meetings with Caitlin at the beach are a little far from Utilitarianism and moral consideration. Fate moves agents that can put deep thought into such questions, but could also have a good catch up before a move to Melbourne instead. It will drive you and your limbs to go play soccer in summer heat.

The foot that kicks - and walks along the sandy footpath and the shore. View all 4 comments.

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Nov 02, Clay Kallam rated it really liked it Shelves: Intuitively, utilitarianism is the simplest of all philosophies. But as is always true, nothing is as simple as it seems — and utilitarianism is no different. Usually, this is interpreted in some kind of numerical value, but why should it be? The wealth of the society was derived from silver mines, which were worked by slaves who died in great numbers in order to lay the foundation for the superb philosophy and drama that emerged from that time. I would disagree, but consider this: Are the values espoused by a society of no concern in these kinds of calculations?

It might be easy to make this determination with medicine, which is in a way directly comparable to the suffering of the human beings who might have contributed to advances in that field, but it when it gets to squishy subjects such as philosophy or drama, the math, if it exists, becomes more complex.

And that leads us to the thorniest issue of all: And then there are questions about such things as clean water, healthy food, a thriving environment. How do you compare them? What about people years from now? This is much of the argument about global warming, as short-term thinking values economic production in the here and now more than some unknown climactic of effects in the future. And what about people 1, years from now, or 10, years?

Presumably, Aristotle and Sophocles will still have value in the 22nd century, just as they did in the 2nd century, and so those slaves who suffered and died in the silver mines did so in the name of utilitarianism. Thinking is almost always a good thing, and thinking about how best an individual or society should make decisions is definitely a good thing. Jul 11, Zachary Jacobi rated it really liked it. Fascinating exploration of utilitarianism that made me think deeply about a few things: Or must it necessarily fail to bring about optimific circumstances?

Smart was the more consistent writer, but Williams despite the occasional lack of clarity had all the best remarks. I remain a utilitarian even after reading it, but I perhaps h Fascinating exploration of utilitarianism that made me think deeply about a few things: I remain a utilitarian even after reading it, but I perhaps have a better understanding of the potential pitfalls of my chosen ethical system.

Nov 12, Greg rated it it was ok Shelves: It's true that Smart's is the more clearly written essay, but Williams' is far more philosophically interesting. Feb 27, Kramer Thompson rated it liked it. A fairly simple introduction to and debate around utilitarianism and its merits, or lack thereof. I found Smart to be clear and honest in his defence of utilitarianism, and thought that Williams' arguments were generally lacking much impact. Still, a pleasant and easy read. Apr 28, Lisa Harmonybites rated it really liked it Shelves: 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. Hedonistic and nonhedonistic utilitarianism. Average happiness versus total happiness Rightness and wrongness of actions. The place of rules in actutilitarianism. Simple application of gametheory technique.

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Utilitarianism and the future. The structure of consequentialism. Two kinds of remoter effect. The indirect pursuit of utility. For and Against J. Moore game theory happiness hedonistic human important intrinsic value involved irrational J. Smart Jim's least London matter maximizing McCloskey merely meta-ethics mixed strategy moral Negative utilitarianism ness non-cognitivist non-consequentialist non-utilitarian normative ethics notion objection one's outcome particular perhaps person Philosophical pleasure point of view possible preferences premiss probability projects pushpin question R.