\The Utilitarian Calculus
Math and ethics finally merge: all consequences must be measured and weighed.
Units of measurement:
1. Hedons: positive
2. Dolors: negative
What do we calculate?
Hedons/dolors may be defined in terms of
For any given action, we must calculate:
1. How many people will be affected, negatively (dolors) as well as positively (hedons)
2. How intensely they will be affected
3. Similar calculations for all available alternatives
4. Choose the action that produces the greatest overall amount of utility (hedons minus dolors)
How much can we quantify?
Pleasure and preference satisfaction are easier to quantify than happiness or ideals
Two distinct issues:
1. Can everything be quantified?
--- Some would maintain that some of the most important things in life (love, family, etc.) cannot easily be quantified, while other things (productivity, material goods) may get emphasized precisely because they are quantifiable.
--- The danger: if it can't be counted, it doesn't count.
2. Are quantified goods necessarily commensurable?
--- Are a fine dinner and a good night's sleep commensurable?
--- Can one be traded or substituted for the other?
“ . . . the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
Utilitarianism doesn't always have a cold and calculating face.
We perform utilitarian calculations in everyday life.