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Utilitarianism, Pragmatism and 'The Ends Justifying The means'

GAPGAP
edited 2013-07-12 17:02:59 in Philosophy

I always wonder about this particular philosophy of killing one to save a thousand, the one thing I want to ask mostly is: How many people need to be sacrificed in order to achieve your goal of protecting the millions of people?

Comments

  • if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    Millions minus one.

  • I think I sort of see the joke but do ends really justify the means?

  • edited 2013-07-12 20:59:17

    HEY LOOK AN ACTUAL REPLY FROM GAP


    I think I've waited five years for that.


  • I think I sort of see the joke but do ends really justify the means?



    The general gist is that some ends justify some means, but what does "some" mean is something there will probably something no group of people except maybe the most endogamic of echo chambers will ever agree on.

  • Due to any given action having unpredictable and obscenely long lasting effects, consequentualism is an untenable position.



  • if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    I have a great dislike for ethics as a whole, because what is "right" and "wrong" is often way too arbitrary and dependant on the situation to shoehorn into rigid categories. While I particularly dislike deontology, I'm not too keen on utilitarianism, either, since it's ridiculous to view humanity as a single, homogenous, group and determine what is good or useful for all or most of them.


    But, technically speaking, I would probably be some sort of a consequentialist. As Trotsky said, "The ends may justify the means as long as there is something to justify the ends".

  • Oh, this reminds me of a discussion I recently had. Anyhow, opposing consequentialism because of its consequences is a hilariously contradictory position at first glance.

  • JHMJHM
    Here, There, Everywhere

    I guess that I am a kind of altruist or hedonistic utilitarian more than anything. While I do not believe that I know what is best for everyone, I do believe that it is best if people are free to do what makes them happiest so long as it does not harm or exploit others. I also ultimately value the happiness of others over my own.


    That is pretty simplistic and nebulous, I suppose, but having one ethical code to guide every action that one takes strikes me as very problematic from both a practical and a moral standpoint.

  • "Kill one, save one thousand" seems arbitrary to me, how many people need to die in order to protect everyone?

  • if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    "Kill one, save one thousand" seems arbitrary to me, how many people need to die in order to protect everyone?


    No, utilitarianism is in fact anything but arbitrary. If anything, it strives for total objectivity, as espoused by the principle of "greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest amount of people", and quite naively so. By reducing morality to a mere matter of numbers, it makes the same mistake some utilitarians like to criticize deontology for - establishing morality as a fully transcendental category. Just like laws of mathematics.
  • ^ It seems the only way to be truly utilitarian is to get rid of the ego altogether. 

  • if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    Yeah. It's pretty much impossible.

  • Don't indulge them.

  • JHMJHM
    Here, There, Everywhere

    I would say that most sane utilitarians have some guiding principles that go beyond the whole pure objectivity angle. Really, besides Randroids and other madmen, who in their right minds would idolise pure "rationality"? It strikes me as, paradoxically, most irrational.

  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"

    Utilitarianism sounds kinda not my thing, you know, like it looks for the lowest common denominator. A man is happy when he just completed a difficult task as well as when he's drugged. I guess this problem's been discussed lots of times already by all sides of the debate, so I don't claim to make any meaningful point. On the other hand, I'd prefer a government that just works quietly to improve the conditions of living to one that adheres to some specific ideology, so I guess that's close to applied utilitarianism.

  • GAPGAP
    edited 2013-07-21 14:05:20

    I don't agree with this philosophy although I do acknowledge you cannot save everyone.

  • edited 2013-07-21 14:15:39

    ^^ That suggests that there are different kinds of happiness -- or alternatively, different happiness patterns, and one might need to "integrate" happiness over some amount of time, to find total enjoyment/satisfaction, rather than simply maximizing instantaneous happiness at some point in time.


    Now if you were going to try to make such a calculation this just means there's even more uncertainty to slog through.

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