The Best Argument Against Utilitarianism.

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The Best Argument Against Utilitarianism.

Postby Jimbee68 on November 19th, 2016, 11:45 am 

Utilitarianism is the belief, the highest good, that we should all strive for, is the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Happiness can be defined in terms of pure pleasure, though some theories allow in other factors too.

It is also not that rare of a theory for modern philosophers to propose. J. J. C. Smart was a Australian philosopher and defender of utilitarianism. He also was an ethical nihilist.

Anyways, I can think of at least one problem with utilitarianism. Why do these people think it is their job to make everyone happy? What if someone doesn't want to be happy? What if they want to be miserable? Shouldn't that be their choice too?

That actually, I think, is what is really what human beings and human societies should strive for. The freedom for every human being, to live their lives, and do as they wish, as long as it does not harm the rights or well-being of other humans, or sentient creatures.

I have also come up with a hypothetical example, to illustrate my point.

The year is 2553. And humans live in a perfect utopian society. No crime. No disease. No pain of any kind. But there is just one fly in the ointment, in all of this. The past. Humans didn't always live this way. War. Famine. The Spanish Inquisition. You get the idea. So the perfectly benevolent, totally utilitarian, government deals with this problem by rewriting history. Famine? Never happened. Spanish Inquisition? What Spanish Inquisition? That never happened either, as far as these utopians know.

But many humans believe it their right to know what the past was like. To know humans past mistakes, and learn from them. So what business does this allegedly utopian government have, in thinking they can rewrite history, just to spare our feelings?

I trust I have made my point. What do the rest of you think?

:)
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Re: The Best Argument Against Utilitarianism.

Postby vivian maxine on November 19th, 2016, 12:23 pm 

I once read - and really stopped to ponder for a long while - a comment that having problems to solve is what keeps life interesting and, without problems to solve, we would all atrophy from boredom. Gracious! We couldn't even read a good novel. Every good novel has a problem to be solved. Without that problem, if falls flat for lack of interest. Boredom. There would be no challenges; hence no fun in achieving. I think educationists can tell you what happened to the idea of keeping all the students - and their parents - happy.

Being happy (totally satisfied with life) just might create a few problems for us to solve starting with boredom and an atrophied brain.
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Re: The Best Argument Against Utilitarianism.

Postby Eclogite on November 19th, 2016, 1:06 pm 

Jimbee68 » Sat Nov 19, 2016 3:45 pm wrote:Anyways, I can think of at least one problem with utilitarianism. Why do these people think it is their job to make everyone happy? What if someone doesn't want to be happy? What if they want to be miserable? Shouldn't that be their choice too?
This does not appear to be a problem. Their happiness would be indulging in misery and therefore this would be the objective of a Utilitarian approach.

It is akin to the imagined conversation:

Masochist: Hit me.
Sadist: No.
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Re: The Best Argument Against Utilitarianism.

Postby edy420 on July 15th, 2017, 7:52 am 

Being miserable comes with the risk of self harm/termination which contradicts your goal of no harm to sentient creatures.

Which means, to achieve your goal, we need to make everyone happy.

I'm no utilitarian, but it's a flaw I noticed in your argument.
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