Adam smith and utilitarianism

Author Rob Leave a comment In the pursuit of the philosophy of business ethics I have come to realize that there are always at least two sides to an issue, that everyone always has an opinion, and that there is always someone out there who wants to argue against an opinion. Among these debates there is one fundamental issue that has been debated since the early days of business ethics, and will continue to ring in the ears of philosophers of business ethics for centuries to come. First, to alleviate any issues or problems associated with semantics I will clarify some of the significant terms I will use in this paper.

Adam smith and utilitarianism

It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do… By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.

In Chapter IV, Bentham introduces a method of calculating the value of pleasures and pains, which has come to be known as the hedonic calculus. Finally, it is necessary to consider the extent, or the number of people affected by the action. Mill " and can be more "a crude version of act utilitarianism conceived in Adam smith and utilitarianism twentieth century as a straw man to be attacked and rejected.

His seminal work is concerned with the principles of legislation and the hedonic calculus is introduced with the words "Pleasures then, and the avoidance of pains, are the ends that the legislator has in view.

This is considered in The Theory of Legislation, where Bentham distinguishes between evils of the first and second orders. Those of the first order are the more immediate consequences; those of the second are when the consequences spread through the community causing "alarm" and "danger".

It is true there are cases in which, if we confine ourselves to the effects of the first order, the good will have an incontestable preponderance over the evil. Were the offence considered only under this point of view, it would not be easy to assign any good reasons to justify the rigour of the laws.

Every thing depends upon the evil of the second order; Adam smith and utilitarianism is this which gives to such actions the character of crime, and which makes punishment necessary.

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Let us take, for example, the physical desire of satisfying hunger. John Stuart Mill Mill was brought up as a Benthamite with the explicit intention that he would carry on the cause of utilitarianism.

It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone. Utility, within the context of utilitarianism, refers to people performing actions for social utility.

Utilitarianism - Wikipedia

With social utility, he means the well-being of many people. Thus, an action that results in the greatest pleasure for the utility of society is the best action, or as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of early Utilitarianism put it, as the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

Mill not only viewed actions as a core part of utility, but as the directive rule of moral human conduct. The rule being that we should only be committing actions that provide pleasure to society.

This view of pleasure was hedonistic, as it pursued the thought that pleasure is the highest good in life. This concept was adopted by Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism, and can be seen in his works.

According to Mill, good actions result in pleasure, and that there is no higher end than pleasure. Mill says that good actions lead to pleasure and define good character. Better put, the justification of character, and whether an action is good or not, is based on how the person contributes to the concept of social utility.

In the long run the best proof of a good character is good actions; and resolutely refuse to consider any mental disposition as good, of which the predominant tendency is to produce bad conduct. In the last chapter of Utilitarianism, Mill concludes that justice, as a classifying factor of our actions being just or unjust is one of the certain moral requirements, and when the requirements are all regarded collectively, they are viewed as greater according to this scale of "social utility" as Mill puts it.

He also notes that, contrary to what its critics might say, there is "no known Epicurean theory of life which does not assign to the pleasures of the intellect… a much higher value as pleasures than to those of mere sensation.

The accusation that hedonism is "doctrine worthy only of swine" has a long history. In Nicomachean Ethics Book 1 Chapter 5Aristotle says that identifying the good with pleasure is to prefer a life suitable for beasts.

The theological utilitarians had the option of grounding their pursuit of happiness in the will of God; the hedonistic utilitarians needed a different defence. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question… [31] Mill argues that if people who are "competently acquainted" with two pleasures show a decided preference for one even if it be accompanied by more discontent and "would not resign it for any quantity of the other", then it is legitimate to regard that pleasure as being superior in quality.

Mill recognizes that these "competent judges" will not always agree, and states that, in cases of disagreement, the judgment of the majority is to be accepted as final. Mill also acknowledges that "many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower.

But this is quite compatible with a full appreciation of the intrinsic superiority of the higher. We will become bored and depressed. Whereas, intellectual pursuits give long term happiness because provide the individual with constant opportunities throughout the years to improve his life, by benefiting from accruing knowledge.

The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it… No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness… we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require, that happiness is a good: It is usual [37] to say that Mill is committing a number of fallacies.View Notes - Adam Smith and Utilitarianism from ECO F at University of Cape Town.

ADAM SMITH AND UTILITARIANISM Adam Smith may be classed as . Adam Smith completely rejected Utilitarianism in any form in his lifetime in his two major books, the Theory of Moral Sentiments () and The Wealth of Nation.

Game theory is the study of the ways in which interacting choices of economic agents produce outcomes with respect to the preferences (or utilities) of those agents, where the outcomes in question might have been intended by none of the meaning of this statement will not be clear to the non-expert until each of the italicized words and phrases has been explained and featured in some.

Adam smith and utilitarianism

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Mackie - Ethics~ Inventing Right and Wrong (, ) - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online for free.

Here below is a list of the entire set of readings from Britannica's ten-year reading plan. Please note that Adler's year suggested list of readings in Britannica's Great Books is . It is Smith’s position whereby “the sentiment of approbation always involves in it a sense of propriety quite distinct from the perception of utility” that “completely invalidates any attempt to describe Adam Smith as a forbear of utilitarianism” [p.

Adam smith and utilitarianism


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