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Duty or Utility

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by speed, Jan 2, 2007.

  1. speed

    speed Member

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    The world, in this author's humble opinion, seems split between two underlying philosophies: duty and utility. In the former Anglo-Saxon world, utility wins out; in China, the Middle East, and to a lesser extent Continental Europe and Japan, duty (in some form) is the order of the day.

    The English--Mill, Bentham, and the many economists/philosophers --proposed that utility is the best measure of ones motivation and desire, and that utilitarianism, or the most utility for all is the best measure of societal motives and desires. This is clearly the view we Americans export; the view of The Economist, 98% of economists, and hedonists everywhere, hehe. Yet, Kant, through his Categorical Imperative, outlined an unconditional moral law of duty, free from all personal desires and motives. This unconditional moral law of duty takes on different forms in different cultures and countries where it is prevalent (say duty to the state in China, and duty to the family in India, duty to religion and honor in the Middle East, duty to community in Europe).

    Yet, which is best in the long run? Does the personal hedonism, and short term thinking caused by utilitarianism and utility, make for a unsustainable society? Or, can a Categorical Imperative be justified in the postmodern age? And if so, is it not too restrictive to growth and freedom?


    Just some ideas I'd like everyone to ponder. Again, back to economics with me--but, economics is truly the gel of Anglo Saxon society, and an area where philosophical ideas can have enormous power on society.
     
  2. Seditious

    Seditious GodSlayer

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    since when did Utilitarianism have to be a short-term concept?

    To think of oneself---eating chocolate for breakfast daily might bring a fair bit of happiness for all those breakfast times, but the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of your whole life might require healthy eating, which is certainly to deny the chocolate you might want in the short-term. Now apply that times six billion and you have to imagine it would just be ignorant to imagine anything near Utilitarian goals could be achieved if ever aspiring in the short-term any more than you'd be said to be at all living up to the idea of being a Utilitarian if you ignorantly did whatever felt good in the moment with no foresight of consequences.
     
  3. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    Duty seems a far simpler value to put into practice, it does not require broad understanding from all who would participate positively, just obediance. However, without some form of broad understanding of utility from the higher, directing levels of a society, the obediance of the society would seem capable of taking them in less than optimum, even very negative, directions.

    It is plain to see the direction that an unintelligent, short term view of utility take people - one can just read your first post in the nationalism and homogeneity thread :lol:

    Short of mass education and critical thinking development, (getting most involved in the system to the point where they have a reasonable understanding of their actions in the short and long term, and how they combine with others) a synthesis of the two ideas would seem the 'best' ideal to push for.
     
  4. speed

    speed Member

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    True. Although, when tied with politics, as the American system is today, utilitarianism is very much a short term concept.
     

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