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Last time, we argued about
the case of the Queen vs. Dudley & Stephens,
the lifeboat case, the case of cannibalism at sea.
And with the arguments about the lifeboat in mind,
the arguments for and against what Dudley and Stephens did in mind,
let's turn back to the philosophy, the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham.
Bentham was born in England in 1748. At the age of 12, he went to Oxford.
At 15, he went to law school. He was admitted to the bar at age 19
but he never practiced law.
Instead, he devoted his life to jurisprudence and moral philosophy.
Last time, we began to consider Bentham's version of utilitarianism.
The main idea is simply stated and it's this:
The highest principle of morality, whether personal or political morality,
is to maximize the general welfare, or the collective happiness,
or the overall balance of pleasure over pain;
in a phrase, maximize utility.
Bentham arrives at this principle by the following line of reasoning:
We're all governed by pain and pleasure,
they are our sovereign masters, and so any moral system
has to take account of them.
How best to take account? By maximizing.
And this leads to the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number.
What exactly should we maximize?
Bentham tells us happiness, or more precisely, utility...
maximizing utility as a principle not only for individuals
but also for communities and for legislators.
"What, after all, is a community?" Bentham asks.
It's the sum of the individuals who comprise it.
And that's why in deciding the best policy,
in deciding what the law should be, in deciding what's just,
citizens and legislators should ask themselves the question
if we add up all of the benefits of this policy
and subtract all of the costs, the right thing to do
is the one that maximizes the balance of happiness over suffering.
That's what it means to maximize utility.
Now, today, I want to see whether you agree or disagree with it,
and it often goes, this utilitarian logic,
under the name of cost-benefit analysis,
which is used by companies and by governments all the time.
And what it involves is placing a value,
usually a dollar value, to stand for utility on the costs
and the benefits of various proposals.
Recently, in the Czech Republic, there was a proposal
to increase the excise tax on smoking. Philip Morris, the tobacco company,
does huge business in the Czech Republic.
They commissioned a study, a cost-benefit analysis
of smoking in the Czech Republic, and what their cost-benefit
analysis found was the government gains by having Czech citizens smoke.
Now, how do they gain?
It's true that there are negative effects to the public finance
of the Czech government because there are increased health care
costs for people who develop smoking-related diseases.
On the other hand, there were positive effects
and those were added up on the other side of the ledger.
The positive effects included, for the most part,
various tax revenues that the government derives from the sale
of cigarette products, but it also included
health care savings to the government when people die early,
pension savings... you don't have to pay pensions for as long...
and also, savings in housing costs for the elderly.
And when all of the costs and benefits were added up,
the Philip Morris study found that there is a net public finance gain
in the Czech Republic of $147,000,000,
and given the savings in housing, in health care, and pension costs,
the government enjoys savings of over $1,200 for each person
who dies prematurely due to smoking.
Cost-benefit analysis.
Now, those among you who are defenders of utilitarianism
may think that this is an unfair test.
Philip Morris was pilloried in the press
and they issued an apology for this heartless calculation.
You may say that what's missing here is something that the utilitarian
can easily incorporate, namely the value to the person
and to the families of those who die from lung cancer.
What about the value of life?
Some cost-benefit analyses incorporate a measure for the value of life.
One of the most famous of these involved the Ford Pinto case.
Did any of you read about that?
This was back in the 1970s.
Do you remember what the Ford Pinto was,
a kind of car? Anybody?
It was a small car, subcompact car, very popular,
but it had one problem, which is the fuel tank
was at the back of the car and in rear collisions,
the fuel tank exploded and some people were killed
and some severely injured.
Victims of these injuries took Ford to court to sue.
And in the court case, it turned out that Ford
had long since known about the vulnerable fuel tank
and had done a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether it would be
worth it to put in a special shield that would
protect the fuel tank and prevent it from exploding.
They did a cost-benefit analysis.
The cost per part to increase the safety of the Pinto,
they calculated at $11.00 per part.
And here's... this was the cost-benefit analysis that emerged in the trial.
Eleven dollars per part at 12.5 million cars and trucks
came to a total cost of $137 million to improve the safety.
But then they calculated the benefits of spending all this money
on a safer car and they counted 180 deaths
and they assigned a dollar value, $200,000 per death,
180 injuries, $67,000, and then the costs to repair,
the replacement cost for 2,000 vehicles,
it would be destroyed without the safety device $700 per vehicle.
So the benefits turned out to be only $49.5 million
and so they didn't install the device.
Needless to say, when this memo of the
Ford Motor Company's cost-benefit analysis came out in the trial,
it appalled the jurors, who awarded a huge settlement.
Is this a counterexample to the utilitarian idea of calculating?
Because Ford included a measure of the value of life.
Now, who here wants to defend cost-benefit analysis
from this apparent counterexample?
Who has a defense?
Or do you think this completely destroys the whole
utilitarian calculus? Yes?
Well, I think that once again, they've made the same mistake
the previous case did, that they assigned a dollar value
to human life, and once again,
they failed to take account things like suffering
and emotional losses by the families.
I mean, families lost earnings but they also lost a loved one
and that is more valued than $200,000.
Right and... wait, wait, wait, that's good. What's your name?
Julie Roteau.
So if $200,000, Julie, is too low a figure
because it doesn't include the loss of a loved one
and the loss of those years of life, what would be...
what do you think would be a more accurate number?
I don't believe I could give a number. I think that this sort of analysis
shouldn't be applied to issues of human life.
I think it can't be used monetarily.
So they didn't just put too low a number, Julie says.
They were wrong to try to put any number at all.
All right, let's hear someone who...
You have to adjust for inflation.
You have to adjust for inflation.
All right, fair enough.
So what would the number be now?
This was 35 years ago.
Two million dollars.
Two million dollars? You would put two million?
And what's your name?
Voytek.
Voytek says we have to allow for inflation.
We should be more generous.
Then would you be satisfied that this is the right way of
thinking about the question?
I guess, unfortunately, it is for...
there needs to be a number put somewhere, like, I'm not sure
what that number would be, but I do agree that
there could possibly be a number put on the human life.
All right, so Voytek says, and here, he disagrees with Julie.
Julie says we can't put a number on human life
for the purpose of a cost-benefit analysis.
Voytek says we have to because we have to make decisions somehow.
What do other people think about this?
Is there anyone prepared to defend cost-benefit analysis
here as accurate as desirable? Yes? Go ahead.
I think that if Ford and other car companies
didn't use cost-benefit analysis, they'd eventually go out of business
because they wouldn't be able to be profitable and millions of people
wouldn't be able to use their cars to get to jobs,
to put food on the table, to feed their children.
So I think that if cost-benefit analysis isn't employed,
the greater good is sacrificed, in this case.
All right, let me add. What's your name?
Raul.
Raul, there was recently a study done about cell phone used by a driver
when people are driving a car, and there was a debate
whether that should be banned.
Yeah.
And the figure was that some 2,000 people die as a result
of accidents each year using cell phones.
And yet, the cost-benefit analysis which was done by the
Center for Risk Analysis at Harvard found that
if you look at the benefits of the cell phone use
and you put some value on the life, it comes out about the same
because of the enormous economic benefit of enabling people
to take advantage of their time, not waste time, be able to make deals
and talk to friends and so on while they're driving.
Doesn't that suggest that it's a mistake to try to put
monetary figures on questions of human life?
Well, I think that if the great majority of people try to
derive maximum utility out of a service,
like using cell phones and the convenience that cell phones provide,
that sacrifice is necessary for satisfaction to occur.
You're an outright utilitarian.
Yes. Okay.
- All right then, one last question, Raul. - Okay.
And I put this to Voytek, what dollar figure should
be put on human life to decide whether to ban the use of cell phones?
Well, I don't want to arbitrarily calculate a figure,
I mean, right now. I think that...
You want to take it under advisement?
Yeah, I'll take it under advisement.
- But what, roughly speaking, would it be? You got 2,300 deaths. - Okay.
You got to assign a dollar value to know whether you want
- to prevent those deaths by banning the use of cell phones in cars. - Okay.
So what would your hunch be? How much? A million?
- Two million? Two million was Voytek's figure. - Yeah.
- Is that about right? - Maybe a million.
- A million? - Yeah.
- You know, that's good. Thank you. - Okay.
So, these are some of the controversies that arise these days
from cost-benefit analysis, especially those that involve placing a
dollar value on everything to be added up.
Well, now I want to turn to your objections,
to your objections not necessarily to cost-benefit analysis specifically,
because that's just one version of the utilitarian logic in practice today,
but to the theory as a whole, to the idea that the right thing to do,
the just basis for policy and law is to maximize utility.
How many disagree with the utilitarian approach to law
and to the common good?
How many agree with it?
So more agree than disagree.
So let's hear from the critics. Yes?
My main issue with it is that I feel like you can't say
that just because someone's in the minority, what they want
and need is less valuable than someone who is in the majority.
So I guess I have an issue with the idea that the greatest good
for the greatest number is okay because there are still...
what about people who are in the lesser number?
Like, it's not fair to them.
They didn't have any say in where they wanted to be.
All right. That's an interesting objection.
You're worried about the effect on the minority.
Yes.
What's your name, by the way?
Anna.
Who has an answer to Anna's worry about the effect on the minority?
What do you say to Anna?
Um, she said that the minority is valued less.
I don't think that's the case because individually,
the minority's value is just the same as the individual of the majority.
It's just that the numbers outweigh the minority.
And I mean, at a certain point, you have to make a decision
and I'm sorry for the minority but sometimes,
it's for the general, for the greater good.
For the greater good. Anna, what do you say?
What's your name?
Yang-Da.
What do you say to Yang-Da?
Yang-Da says you just have to add up people's preferences
and those in the minority do have their preferences weighed.
Can you give an example of the kind of thing
you're worried about when you say you're worried about utilitarianism
violating the concern or respect due the minority?
- OK. - And give an example.
Okay. So, well, with any of the cases that we've talked about,
like for the shipwreck one, I think the boy who was eaten
still had as much of a right to live as the other people
and just because he was the minority in that case,
the one who maybe had less of a chance to keep living,
that doesn't mean that the others automatically
have a right to eat him just because it would give a
greater amount of people a chance to live.
So there may be certain rights that the minority members have,
that the individual has that shouldn't be traded off for the sake of utility?
Yes.
Yes, Anna? You know, this would be a test for you.
Back in Ancient Rome, they threw Christians to the lions
in the Colosseum for sport.
If you think how the utilitarian calculus would go,
yes, the Christian thrown to the lions suffers enormous excruciating pain.
But look at the collective ecstasy of the Romans!
Yang-Da.
Well, in that time, I don't... if... in modern day of time,
to value the... to give a number to the happiness
given to the people watching, I don't think any, like,
policymaker would say the pain of one person, of the suffering
of one person is much, much... is, I mean, in comparison
to the happiness gained, it's...
No, but you have to admit that if there were enough Romans
delirious enough with happiness, it would outweigh even the
most excruciating pain of a handful of Christians thrown to the lion.
So we really have here two different objections to utilitarianism.
One has to do with whether utilitarianism adequately respects
individual rights or minority rights, and the other has to do with
the whole idea of aggregating utility or preferences or values.
Is it possible to aggregate all values to translate them into dollar terms?
There was, in the 1930s, a psychologist who tried
to address this second question.
He tried to prove what utilitarianism assumes,
that it is possible to translate all goods, all values,
all human concerns into a single uniform measure,
and he did this by conducting a survey of young recipients of relief,
this was in the 1930s, and he asked them,
he gave them a list of unpleasant experiences and he asked them,
"How much would you have to be paid to undergo the following experiences?"
and he kept track.
For example, how much would you have to be paid
to have one upper front tooth pulled out?
Or how much would you have to be paid to have one little toe cut off?
Or to eat a live earthworm six inches long?
Or to live the rest of your life on a farm in Kansas?
Or to choke a stray cat to death with your bare hands?
- Now, what do you suppose was the most expensive item on that list? - Kansas!
Kansas?
You're right, it was Kansas.
For Kansas, people said they'd have to pay them...
they have to be paid $300,000.
What do you think was the next most expensive?
Not the cat.
Not the tooth.
Not the toe.
The worm!
People said you'd have to pay them $100,000 to eat the worm.
What do you think was the least expensive item?
Not the cat.
The tooth.
During the Depression, people were willing to have their
tooth pulled for only $4,500.
What?
Now, here's what Thorndike concluded from his study.
Any want or a satisfaction which exists exists in some amount
and is therefore measurable.
The life of a dog or a cat or a chicken consists of appetites,
cravings, desires, and their gratifications.
So does the life of human beings, though the appetites
and desires are more complicated.
But what about Thorndike's study?
Does it support Bentham's idea that all goods,
all values can be captured according to a single uniform measure of value?
Or does the preposterous character of those different items on the list
suggest the opposite conclusion that maybe,
whether we're talking about life or Kansas or the worm,
maybe the things we value and cherish can't be captured
according to a single uniform measure of value?
And if they can't, what are the consequences
for the utilitarian theory of morality?
That's a question we'll continue with next time.
All right, now, let's take the other part of the poll,
which is the highest experience or pleasure?
How many say Shakespeare?
How many say Fear Factor?
No, you can't be serious. Really?
Last time, we began to consider some objections to
Jeremy Bentham's version of utilitarianism.
People raised two objections in the discussion we had.
The first was the objection, the claim that utilitarianism,
by concerning itself with the greatest good for the greatest number,
fails adequately to respect individual rights.
Today, we have debates about torture and terrorism.
Suppose a suspected terrorist was apprehended on September 10th
and you had reason to believe that the suspect had crucial information
about an impending terrorist attack that would kill over 3,000 people
and you couldn't extract the information.
Would it be just to torture the suspect to get the information
or do you say no, there is a categorical moral duty
of respect for individual rights?
In a way, we're back to the questions we started with
about Charlie Carson organ transplant.
So that's the first issue.
And you remember, we considered some examples
of cost-benefit analysis, but a lot of people were unhappy
with cost-benefit analysis when it came to placing
a dollar value on human life.
And so that led us to the second objection.
It questioned whether it's possible to translate all values into
a single uniform measure of value.
It asks, in other words, whether all values are commensurable.
Let me give you one other example of an experience.
This actually is a true story.
It comes from personal experience that raises a question
at least about whether all values can be translated without loss
into utilitarian terms.
Some years ago, when I was a graduate student,
I was at Oxford in England and they had men's and women's colleges.
They weren't yet mixed and the women's colleges
had rules against overnight male guests.
By the 1970s, these rules were rarely enforced and easily violated,
or so I was told.
By the late 1970s, when I was there,
pressure grew to relax these rules and it became the subject of debate
among the faculty at St. Anne's College,
which was one of these all-women's colleges.
The older women on the faculty were traditionalists.
They were opposed to change unconventional moral grounds.
But times have changed and they were embarrassed
to give the true grounds for their objection and so they translated
their arguments into utilitarian terms.
"If men stay overnight", they argued,
"the costs to the college will increase."
"How?" you might wonder.
"Well, they'll want to take baths
and that'll use up hot water," they said.
Furthermore, they argued,
"We'll have to replace the mattresses more often."
The reformers met these arguments by adopting the following compromise.
Each woman could have a maximum of three overnight male guests each week.
They didn't say whether it had to be the same one or three different
provided, and this was the compromise,
provided the guest paid 50 pence to defray the cost to the college.
The next day, the national headline in the national newspaper read,
"St. Anne's Girls, 50 Pence A Night."
Another illustration of the difficulty of translating all values,
in this case, a certain idea of virtue, into utilitarian terms.
So, that's all to illustrate the second objection to utilitarianism,
at least the part of that objection, that questions whether utilitarianism
is right to assume that we can assume the uniformity of value,
the commensurability of all values and translate all moral considerations
into dollars or money.
But there is a second aspect to this worry about
aggregating values and preferences.
Why should we weigh all preferences that people have without assessing
whether they're good preferences or bad preferences?
Shouldn't we distinguish between higher pleasures and lower pleasures?
Now, part of the appeal of not making any qualitative distinctions
about the worth of people's preferences,
part of the appeal is that it is nonjudgmental and egalitarian.
The Benthamite utilitarian says everybody's preferences count
and they count regardless of what people want,
regardless of what makes different people happy.
For Bentham, all that matters, you'll remember,
are the intensity and the duration of a pleasure or pain.
The so-called "higher pleasures or nobler virtues"
are simply those, according to Bentham,
that produce stronger, longer pleasure.
Yet a famous phrase to express this idea,
the quantity of pleasure being equal, pushpin is as good as poetry.
What was pushpin?
It was some kind of a child's game, like tiddlywinks.
"Pushpin is as good as poetry", Bentham says.
And lying behind this idea, I think, is the claim, the intuition,
that it's a presumption to judge whose pleasures
are intrinsically higher or worthier or better.
And there is something attractive in this refusal to judge.
After all, some people like Mozart, others Madonna.
Some people like ballet, others bowling.
Who's to say, a Benthamite might argue,
who is to say which of these pleasures, whose pleasures are higher,
worthier, nobler than others?
But is that right, this refusal to make qualitative distinctions?
Can we altogether dispense with the idea that
certain things we take pleasure in are better or worthier than others?
Think back to the case of the Romans in the Colosseum.
One thing that troubled people about that practice is that it seemed
to violate the rights of the Christian.
Another way of objection to what's going on there
is that the pleasure that the Romans take in this bloody spectacle,
should that pleasure, which is abased, kind of corrupt, degrading pleasure,
should that even be valorized or weighed in deciding
what the general welfare is?
So here are the objections to Bentham's utilitarianism
and now, we turn to someone who tried to respond to those objections,
a latter-day utilitarian, John Stuart Mill.
So what we need to examine now is whether John Stuart Mill
had a convincing reply to these objections to utilitarianism.
John Stuart Mill was born in 1806.
His father, James Mill, was a disciple of Bentham's,
and James Mill set about giving his son, John Stuart Mill,
a model education.
He was a child protégé, John Stuart Mill.
He knew Greek at the age of three, Latin at eight,
and age 10, he wrote "A History of Roman Law."
At age 20, he had a nervous breakdown.
This left him in a depression for five years, but at age 25,
what helped lift him out of this depression
is that he met Harriet Taylor.
She and Mill got married, they lived happily ever after,
and it was under her influence that John Stuart Mill
tried to humanize utilitarianism.
What Mill tried to do was to see whether the
utilitarian calculus could be enlarged and modified to
accommodate humanitarian concerns, like the concern to
respect individual rights, and also to address the distinction
between higher and lower pleasures.
In 1859, Mill wrote a famous book on liberty,
the main point of which was the importance
of defending individual rights and minority rights,
and in 1861, toward the end of his life,
he wrote the book we read as part of this course, "Utilitarianism."
He makes it clear that utility is the only standard of morality,
in his view, so he's not challenging Bentham's premise.
He's affirming it.
He says very explicitly, "The sole evidence it is possible
to produce that anything is desirable is that people actually do desire it."
So he stays with the idea that our de facto actual empirical desires
are the only basis for moral judgment.
But then, page eight, also in chapter two,
he argues that it is possible for a utilitarian to distinguish
higher from lower pleasures.
Now, for those of you who have read Mill already,
how, according to him, is it possible to draw that distinction?
How can a utilitarian distinguish qualitatively higher pleasures
from lesser ones, base ones, unworthy ones? Yes?
If you've tried both of them and you prefer the higher one,
naturally, always.
That's great. That's right.
- What's your name? - John.
So as John points out, Mill says here's the test.
Since we can't step outside actual desires,
actual preferences that would violate utilitarian premises,
the only test of whether a pleasure is higher or lower
is whether someone who has experienced both would prefer it.
And here, in chapter two, we see the passage where
Mill makes the point that John just described.
"Of two pleasures, if there be one to which
all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference,
irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it...
in other words, no outside, no independent standard... then,
that is the more desirable pleasure."
What do people think about that argument?
Does it succeed?
How many think that it does succeed of arguing
within utilitarian terms for a distinction between
higher and lower pleasures?
How many think it doesn't succeed?
I want to hear your reasons.
But before we give the reasons
let's do an experiment of Mill's claim.
In order to do this experiment, we're going to look at
three short excerpts of popular entertainment.
The first one is a Hamlet soliloquy.
It'll be followed by two other experiences.
See what you think.
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties, in form and moving
how express and admirable, in action how like an angel,
in apprehension how like a god!
The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals...
and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
Man delights not me.
Imagine a world where your greatest fears become reality.
Ahh! They're biting me!
Each show, six contestants from around the country
battle each other in three extreme stunts.
These stunts are designed to challenge the contestants
both physically and mentally.
Six contestants, three stunts, one winner.
Yes! Whooo!
Fear Factor.
Hi-diddily-ho, pedal-to-the-metal-o-Philes.
Flanders, since when do you like anything cool?
Well, I don't care for the speed but I can't get enough
of that safety gear. Helmets, roll bars, caution flags...
I like the fresh air...
and looking at the poor people in the infield.
Damn, Cletus, why'd you have to park by my parents?
Now, Honey, they's my parents too.
I don't even have to ask which one you liked most.
The Simpsons, how many liked The Simpsons most?
How many Shakespeare?
What about Fear Factor?
How many preferred Fear Factor?
Really?
People overwhelmingly like The Simpsons better than Shakespeare.
All right, now, let's take the other part of the poll,
which is the highest experience or pleasure.
How many say Shakespeare?
How many say Fear Factor?
No, you can't be serious. Really? What?
All right, go ahead. You can say it.
I found that one the most entertaining.
I know, but which do you think was the worthiest,
the noblest experience?
I know you found it the most entertaining.
If something is good just because it is pleasurable,
what does it matter whether you have sort of an
abstract idea of whether it is good by someone else's sense or not?
All right, so you come down in the straight Benthamite side.
Who is to judge and why should we judge,
apart from just registering and aggregating de facto preference?
All right, that's fair enough. And what's your name?
Nate, okay, fair enough.
All right, so how many think The Simpsons is actually,
apart from liking it, is actually the higher experience?
Higher than Shakespeare?
All right, let's see the vote for Shakespeare again.
How many think Shakespeare is higher?
All right. So why is it... ideally,
I'd like to hear from someone, is there someone who thinks
Shakespeare is highest but who preferred watching The Simpsons?
Yes?
Like, I guess just sitting and watching The Simpsons,
it's entertaining because they make jokes and they make us laugh.
But like, someone has to tell us that Shakespeare was this great writer.
We had to be taught how to read him, how to understand him.
We had to be taught how to kind of take in Rembrandt,
how to analyze a painting.
But let me... what's your name?
Anisha.
Anisha, when you say someone told you that Shakespeare is better...
Right.
Are you accepting it on blind faith?
You voted that Shakespeare is higher
only because the culture tells you that
or teachers tell you that or do you actually agree with that yourself?
Well, in the sense that Shakespeare no,
but earlier you made an example of Rembrandt.
I feel like I would enjoy reading a comic book
more than I would enjoy kind of analyzing Rembrandt
- because someone told me it was great, you know. - Right.
So some of this seems to be, you're suggesting,
a kind of a cultural convention and pressure.
- We're told what books, what works of art are great. - Right.
Who else?
Yes?
Although I enjoyed watching The Simpsons more
in this particular moment, in justice, if I were to spend
the rest of my life considering the three different video clips shown,
I would not want to spend that remainder of my life
considering the latter two clips.
I think I would derive more pleasure from being able to branch out in my
own mind sort of considering more deep pleasures, more deep thoughts.
And tell me your name.
Joe.
Joe, so if you had to spend the rest of your life on a farm
in Kansas with only Shakespeare or the collected episodes
of The Simpsons, you would prefer Shakespeare?
What do you conclude from that about John Stuart Mill's test that the test
of a higher pleasure is whether people who have experienced both prefer it?
Can I cite another example briefly?
Yeah.
In neurobiology last year, we were told of a rat
who was tested a particular center in the brain where the rat was able
to stimulate his brain and caused itself intense pleasure repeatedly.
The rat did not eat or drink until it died.
So the rat was clearly experiencing intense pleasure.
Now, if you ask me right now if I would rather experience
intense pleasure or have a full lifetime of higher pleasure,
I would consider intense pleasure to be low pleasure.
I would right now enjoy intense pleasure but
yes, I would.
I certainly would.
But over a lifetime, I think I would think almost
a complete majority here would agree that they would rather
be a human with higher pleasure than be that rat with intense pleasure
for a momentary period of time.
Now, in answer to your question, I think this proves that
or I won't say "proves."
I think the conclusion is that Mill's theory that when a majority
of people are asked what they would rather do,
they will answer that they would rather engage in a higher pleasure.
So you think that this support Mill's you think Mill is onto something here?
I do.
All right, Is there anyone who disagrees with Joe and who thinks
that our experiment disproves Mill's test,
shows that that's not an adequate way, that you can't distinguish
higher pleasures within the utilitarian framework?
Yes?
If whatever is good is truly just whatever people prefer,
it's truly relative and there's no objective definition,
then there will be some society where people prefer Simpsons more.
Anyone can appreciate The Simpsons but I think it does take education
to appreciate Shakespeare as much.
All right, you're saying it takes education
to appreciate higher true things.
Mill's point is that the higher pleasures do require
cultivation and appreciation and education.
He doesn't dispute that.
But once having been cultivated and educated, people will see,
not only see the difference between higher and lower pleasures,
but will actually prefer the higher to the lower.
You find this famous passage from John Stuart Mill.
"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied;
better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.
And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion,
it is because they only know their side of the question."
So here, you have an attempt to distinguish
higher from lower pleasures.
So going to an art museum or being a couch potato
and swilling beer, watching television at home.
Sometimes, Mill agrees, we might succumb to the temptation
to do the latter, to be couch potatoes.
But even when we do that out of indolence and sloth,
we know that the pleasure we get gazing at Rembrandts in the museum
is actually higher because we've experienced both,
and it is a higher pleasure gazing at Rembrandts
because it engages our higher human faculties.
What about Mill's attempt to reply to the objection about individual rights?
In a way, he uses the same kind of argument,
and this comes out in chapter five.
He says, "I dispute the pretensions of any theory which sets up
an imaginary standard of justice not grounded on utility."
But still, he considers justice grounded on utility to be what he calls
"the chief part and incomparably, the most sacred
and binding part of all morality."
So justice is higher, individual rights are privileged,
but not for reasons that depart from utilitarian assumptions.
Justice is a name, for certain moral requirements,
which, regarded collectively, stand higher in the scale
of social utility and are, therefore, of more paramount
obligation than any others.
So justice, it is sacred.
It's prior. It's privileged.
It isn't something that can easily be traded off against lesser things.
But the reason is ultimately, Mill claims, a utilitarian reason
once you consider the long-run interests of humankind,
of all of us as progressive beings.
If we do justice and if we respect rights,
society as a whole will be better off in the long run.
Well, is that convincing or is Mill actually, without admitting it,
stepping outside utilitarian considerations in arguing for
qualitatively higher pleasures and for sacred
or especially important individual rights?
We haven't fully answered that question because to answer that question,
in the case of rights and justice,
will require that we explore other ways,
non-utilitarian ways of accounting for the basis
of rights and then asking whether they succeed.
As for Jeremy Bentham, who launched utilitarianism
as a doctrine in moral and legal philosophy,
Bentham died in 1832 at the age of 85.
But if you go to London, you can visit him today literally.
He provided in his will that his body be preserved,
embalmed, and displayed in the University of London,
where he still presides in a glass case with a wax head,
dressed in his actual clothing.
You see, before he died, Bentham addressed himself
to a question consistent with his philosophy.
Of what use could a dead man be to the living?
One use, he said, would be to make one's corpse
available to the study of anatomy.
In the case of great philosophers, however, better yet to preserve
one's physical presence in order to inspire future generations of thinkers.
You want to see what Bentham looks like stuffed?
Here is what he looks like.
There he is.
Now, if you look closely, you will notice that the embalming
of his actual head was not a success,
so they substituted a waxed head and at the bottom, for verisimilitude,
you can actually see his actual head on a plate.
You see it? Right there.
So, what's the moral of the story?
The moral of the story... and by the way,
they bring him out during meetings of the board
at University College London and the minutes record him
as present but not voting.
Here is a philosopher in life and in death
who adhered to the principles of his philosophy.
We'll continue with rights next time.


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載入中…

公正-該如何做是好(第二集) - 給生命一個價格標籤如何衡量快樂 How to evaluate happiness.

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姚易辰 發佈於 2013 年 9 月 29 日
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