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Utiliitarianism - doctrine of irresponsibility?

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by Blowtus, May 16, 2008.

  1. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    If one lived in a generally utilitarian society, where the happiness (in the broadest sense) of each and every was to be accorded the same value by all, (within the constraints imposed by the ability to know such within a time of maximal beneft) is there not a relatively complete loss of responsibility for ones own specific happiness? 'Virtue' would consist in some sense of learning to enjoy the same satisfactions as others. One could choose to live a life without virtue, and the responsibility for ones happiness falls on the rest of society. So we seem to have both an encouragement of herd and victim mentality - in striking contrast to existentialism when I look at it this way, thus little wonder I guess why I felt it so wrong without understanding why for quite some time...

    Does anyone have or has anyone read similar response to utilitarianism, or any defence from such response?
     
  2. Silver Incubus

    Silver Incubus Dead Hands Justin

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    I think its a noble Ideal with good intentions, and can do some good but ultimately it fails to really do anything but harm and decay as we are seeing now. Without hardships how would anyone really learn or be motivated to do anything?
     
  3. WeAreTheLastMen

    WeAreTheLastMen Metacom

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    responsibility for one's happiness? could you explain? because the idea that we have an "responsibility" to be happy seems ridiculous. I'm missing something here. Help me out.
     
  4. Fenrisúlfr

    Fenrisúlfr ὁ δύσκος λύκος

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    Dependency always creates moral hazard for one not to take care of one's own business. Such utilitarianism if enforced would be tantamount to slavery, and I for one will resist it to the death.
     
  5. razoredge

    razoredge Member

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    communism was good in theory too, so was socialist, so was democracy, so was capitolism

    its all a matter of how much faith you have in humans.... me ? .... 0%

    I was extremely happy once and it took alot of work for not much monetary reward, but the internal reward was great, damndest thing was loss of that made me extremely unhappy, now I wish I never knew.
     
  6. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    Only in that one could rely on others for it, not that one necessarily has a 'duty' to provide it for oneself. I find the view that we are responsible for our own state of affairs the only worthwhile explanation... if it is otherwise then even so, there is no use in *thinking* it otherwise, far as I can see.

    edit: yeah, using a different sense of 'responsibility' in the thread title to that of another current thread probably wasn't ideal...
     
  7. Seditious

    Seditious GodSlayer

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    I hope you don't mind if I hijack this thread a little...

    last year I was debating with a vegan who establishes his veganism on Utilitarianism. He made a claim which seemed to me simply deceptive, and I'm wondering what others who might know a little more about Utilitarianism than me know about it. (I consider it a pathetic and failed theory, so I haven't exactly followed its proponents)

    He said that modern Utilitarians have done away with the 'two' criterion for good - 'greatest good' for 'greatest number'. But his statements revealed to my mind that he has merely couched his bias of 'good' inside the claim, and whenever someone presents the The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas example (one little girl suffers as a means to all the good things the Omelas enjoy) he just asserts 'one person suffering is always worse than any benefit to come from it' or 'one death is...' or whatever. When something he doesn't like is good for the greatest number, he says 'no, it's not reallllly good for the greatest number, because to me the suffering of one person as a means is not good for them'... so he's really just pretending that the two criterion don't exist.

    does anyone think his claim to a single criterion is valid?

    is this what Utilitarianism is asserted to be these days, but have I/he mischaracterized how that functions?
     
  8. Seditious

    Seditious GodSlayer

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    lol, interesting thought.
    others have a duty to make sure I'm happy, in their pursuit to make the greatest happiness for the greatest number...why should I do anything? It's the welfare state problem--will you put me in jail for not contributing to the greatest good of the greatest number if I'm not being a criminal? will you let me starve to death? if not, should I bother working hard to make millions that will just be distributed to others to have their basic goods?
    It's kinda like the same problem of communism where it really relies on a population of people who really believe in it and want to maintain it, rather than happily exploit it.

    naa, to be honest, this is a new and intrigueing perspective to me. I've always heard it faulted on logical grounds, and mocked it myself for its arbitrariness, but not heard 'stipulate it in existence, what are the consequences of this prima facie noble theory?' thoughts.
     
  9. Seditious

    Seditious GodSlayer

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    Indeed.
    Myself, I take 'our' (society's) responsibility to the affairs of others to exist only in the hypothetical sense spoken of in earlier threads---if you don't want people stealing and chopping your car for money, perhaps you should have a welfare scheme to dilute their desperation and hopefully make them complacent with mere poverty. No compassion/paternalism/etc. required. If people would just politely and quietly kill themselves when not maintaining a satisfactory state of affairs for themselves we wouldn't have any 'responsibility for their wellbeing' to be spoken of at all.
     
  10. Fenrisúlfr

    Fenrisúlfr ὁ δύσκος λύκος

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    The only responsibility individuals have to one another is not to initiate force or theft, barring that, we owe nothing. As for petty thievery, that is what handguns are for: when the paupers cannot keep their hands off the fruits of others' labour. If they cannot get their act together, that is their problem, not ours.

    There is no responsibility for the affairs of others unless one decides to make it as such, the operative word being 'decide', whether as an individual or lumped together as a society. Call me irresponsible, but methinks this whole 'social responsiblity' thing is socialism in disguise.
     
  11. razoredge

    razoredge Member

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    now theres a croc

    "paupers putting their hands on the fruits of others labors"... what a concept... as if theres only one kind of larceny... which leads back to this statement.... seditious: "if you don't want people stealing and chopping your car for money, perhaps you should have a welfare scheme to dilute their desperation and hopefully make them complacent with mere poverty" as if thats the answer as well... humans, always void of the big picture

    theres very simple things that can be supplied in fare trade to avoid the contempt for "responsibility" as if its a "debt" :rolleyes:

    this world needs a good epidemic of a highly selective white collar virus
     
  12. Seditious

    Seditious GodSlayer

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    why do you think we have that?
     
  13. Fenrisúlfr

    Fenrisúlfr ὁ δύσκος λύκος

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    Yes, there is only one kind of larceny: that which parts the owner from his lawfully-gained property. The prohibition of the initiation of force or theft is so that anarchy does not ensue. It is the logical extension that man is the owner of his own life, liberty, property, and the defence thereof.

    As for responsibility...I have taken no oath, signed no contract, verbal or otherwise, which makes me beholden unto anyone or anything. As such, to compel from me anything under the guise of any justice is hypocrisy.

    As for a white-collar virus: methinks I may be the target of such a plague, but I would be spared for I am not white-collar but merely an engineering student and speculator who has made his own way. :heh: We make civilisation possible, so even if we were to be killed in such a plague, you would perish soon after when the lights go out, the roads become impassible or the oil, refined into petrol, does not get to the gas station, or any number of things.
     
  14. razoredge

    razoredge Member

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    first paragraph - only a theory, long since corupted

    last - doubtful

    but who paid for your schoolin ? honestly ?
     
  15. Fenrisúlfr

    Fenrisúlfr ὁ δύσκος λύκος

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    Public for the first 8 years (which was a joke), private for the remainder where I was refined into this well-spoken and cunning linguist. The standards were so different that I literally went nuts playing catch-up but did reasonably well overall, though a very nasty bout of depression as well as a family feud delayed my pursuit of higher education. This is all moot as it was not my call.

    The first is not a theory; Locke's philosophy of natural rights is the corner-stone of the West, and is surely not corrupt.

    The last: let us look at it this way, if I was a white-collar twat, I would certainly not still be hanging around in the decrepit States as specified in my introductory post, if nothing else for tax reasons. Why pay 15% capital gains with Bush's tax cut when one can pay 0% in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Dubai?

    Additionally, if using vernacular, at least use an apostrophe (schoolin').
     
  16. Seditious

    Seditious GodSlayer

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    arrogance isn't evidence. The Torah, or the Qur'an, or The Bible, might at this or that moment in history have been the corner-stone of this or that region of the world, this says nothing of its validity.

    d'you care to address my request for an argument behind your Lockean assertion?
     
  17. Fenrisúlfr

    Fenrisúlfr ὁ δύσκος λύκος

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    (paraphrased from part of my old term paper)

    Certainly. I concur with Hobbes' argument, namely that as it is man's nature to pursue one's own interest above all, and it is right that they do so. He states that by virtue that it is natural and ultimately unavoidable, it is right to do so, though I find this argument a bit of a leap. In nature, natural selection is used to distribute finite resources, a situation that is unchanged in the modern era. In either case, if everyone pursued their own interests in their full power, the consequences would be war of all against all. Thus, if civilisation is to ensue, it is necessary that one's rights be limited so that they do not cause interference with those of others. Arising from this would be life (Your being alive does not deprive me of my being alive), liberty (a bit ambiguous but I generally interpret it as being free from involuntary contracts, and being a clean slate at birth), and property (provided it was not stolen, interesting with someone else's right). Thus, an entity must be created that allows for this to ensue: government, which protects the sanctity of the contract, and of property rights. It is impossible for it to protect life, though methinks the private sector is better equipped for it to handle such things.

    Other than that, to imply that, unless voluntarily contracted, that one has any obligation is to legitimize tyranny and he logical extension of that would be to legitimize theft, slavery, and murder at the hands of an entity itself not subject to such threats.

    Unfortunately, in practice, humanity has a pernicious propensity to place security above liberty, and from this our rights and property are chiselled away. For instance, the income tax started as a 2% tax on the very rich, income tax with-holding started in 1943 as an 'emergency measure', and do not get me started on the 'Patriot' act.
     
  18. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    Would you also care to define 'lawfully owned property'? At what point in history do you stop looking back for 'unlawful acquisition'?
    Radical libertarianism always seems like rubbish with it's oh so arbitrary 'we need a state to defend our property but everything else is best done by the individual' crap.
     
  19. Fenrisúlfr

    Fenrisúlfr ὁ δύσκος λύκος

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    To be able to trace property back to when Og found a shiny rock to the point it arrived at my pinky would be absurd, thus there is a certain 'de-facto' aspect of property. To deny that in cases and on large scales, property has been seized is likewise absurd. I am partial to the adversarial method of determination: let those who can prove a title or de-facto claim (it was in his clear and undisputed possession previously) the property, claim it through the courts, that is what they are there for. Otherwise, let the bugger keep it. Additionally, that is exactly the reason why, even with this limited power (protecting property rights, the contract &c) that it be kept in check by a well-informed and engaged citizenry: history shows time and again that the people get the government they deserve, and Locke himself stipulated that when the state turns against the people which it was created to protect, revolution becomes a right, and is pursued because of enlightened self-interest.

    Unfortunately, in practice, people put security over liberty and the aforementioned horrors ensue. Liberty ensues when a government fears its people, tyranny ensues when the people fear their government. Unfortunately, the latter has ensued and a once-free people has been subjugated.
     
  20. Blowtus

    Blowtus Member

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    All property has already been claimed. (Not something Locke had to contend with)
    Property grants one a measure of power.
    Preserving such power, at the same time as giving no benefit (education, health, various infrastructure) to those born into the unlucky situation of having no property, can't be seen to be in the interest of those without property *at all* - so it's basically just a desire from those with property to maintain the status quo, to be able to benefit from their property and give nothing in return.
     

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