- s Mill right when he says that goodness is simply “whatever promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people”? In your answer, consider Mill’s distinction between “higher and lower pleasures” in contrast to Bentham’s “moral arithmetic.” Consider, also, the various objections to utilitarianism as discussed in the lecture.
- How useful is the ethical theory we have studied so far when it comes to concrete problems and issues in the “real world”? In Video Lecture 4, “Values and Ethics: Some Applications,” the example of abortion was used to distinguish factual statements (what “is” the case) from value claims (what “ought to be” the case). Consider some other real-world issues, e.g. euthanasia, world hunger, etc. See “PHI and Ethics Links” in the Course Content module, and note that you have the option of viewing any of 16 video programs in the award-winning “Ethics in America” series. Discuss a few of the positions pro and con, and then tell how you think such philosophers as Aristotle, Kant, and Mill would deal with the issues. Since most ethical controversies are subtle and complex, it is not likely that any of the philosophers we’ve studied would be completely “for” or completely “against” any of the positions discussed. (Note: You may, of course, discuss the abortion issue, but if you do so, please be sure to discuss at least one other real-world issue.)
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UTILITARIANISM by John Stuart Mill (1863) Chapter 2 What Utilitarianism Is. A PASSING remark is all that needs be given to the ignorant blunder of supposing that those who stand up for utility as the test of right and wrong, use the term in that restricted and merely colloquial sense in which utility is opposed to pleasure. An apology is due to the philosophical opponents of utilitarianism, for even the momentary appearance of confounding them with any one capable of so absurd a misconception; which is the more extraordinary, inasmuch as the contrary accusation, of referring everything to pleasure, and that too in its grossest form, is another of the common charges against utilitarianism: and, as has been pointedly remarked by an able writer, the same sort of persons, and often the very same persons, denounce the theory “as
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