|Utilitarianism: is a doctrine of ethics which takes the assumed greatest benefit for the greatest number of affected people as the moral aim. See also hedonism, good/the good, preference-utilitarianism, rule-utilitarianism, ethics, morality, deontology, consequentialism, benefit._____________Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments. |
John Rawls on Utilitarianism - Dictionary of Arguments
Utilitarianism/Sidgwick/Rawls: I take here the strictly classical doctrine of utilitarianism as best illustrated by Henry Sidgwick(1) to use this utilitarianism as a counterpoint to my contract theory.
Utilitarianism/Rawls: Utilitarianism assumes that the principle of inviolability, which is based on justice for us,...
... is only a Common Sense command, and has only subordinate importance as a secondary rule, as has the concept of natural law, as far as it benefits the majority of society.
Principles of Social Election and Justice/Rawls: we assume the principles of social election and justice in our contract theory as an object of an initial agreement, while utilitarianism simply expands it to the idealization of society as an ideal total person.
RawlsVsUtilitarianism: that is to take the plurality and particularity of individuals not seriously.
RawlsVsUtilitarianism: our contract theory is also not teleological, as utilitarianism is. However, we also consider - like any serious ethical theory - the consequences.
But the theory of justice as fairness never considers the maximization of utility.
RawlsVsUtilitarianism: Justice as fairness accepts from the outset the principle of equal freedom, without knowledge of its purposes, while utilitarianism wants to take into account whether the discrimination of individuals may increase the overall benefit.
Justice as fairness: does not accept inclinations as given in order to then fulfil them, but these are limited from the beginning by the principles of justice.
That the right takes precedence over the good is a central principle. It should ensure that institutions remain stable.
Utilitarianism/Rawls: is strongly based on natural properties and coincidences of human life, while the theory of justice as fairness is based on the first principles of ethical theory.
Utilitarianism/Rawls: his most important principle is the average principle. However, this is rejected by Sidgwick(2).
Utilitarianism/Individuals/Rawls: the classical Utilitarianism ignores in a certain sense the distinction of individual persons. The principle of rational choice of a human being is at the same time the principle of rational choice for everyone.
N.B.: this makes this ideal person identical to the ideal sympathetic observer!
Classical utilitarianism then culminates in the - impersonal - merging of all desires into a single system of desires(3)(4).
(1) Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, London, 1907.
(2) Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, London, 1907, pp. 415f.
(3) See C. I. Lewis, The Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation, 1946.
(4) J. C. SmartVsLewis, An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics, p. 26._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
A Theory of Justice: Original Edition Oxford 2005