t is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of revelry, not sexual lust, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul. Of all this the beginning and the greatest good is wisdom. Therefore wisdom is a more precious thing even than philosophy ; from it spring all the other virtues, for it teaches that we cannot live pleasantly without living wisely, honorably, and justly; nor live wisely, honorably, and justly without living pleasantly. For the virtues have grown into one with a pleasant life, and a pleasant life is inseparable from them. Commonly, it is not happiness which is valuable, they will say, but the fulfilment of desires - that hedonism is plausible only to the extent that we desire happiness.
This means that classical utilitarianism is a theory in which the right actions are defined as those bringing about as consequences the greatest net happiness (or pleasure).
"The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness."
The experience machine is meant to be an argument against hedonism. If hedonism were correct, then people would want to plug into the "Experience Machine." This is because the experience machine can guarantee more pleasure than one would have in real life. Nozick thinks that people do not really want to plug into the "Experience Machine." Therefore, hedonism is not correct. If hedonism were correct, then, by the definition of hedonism, the only thing people value, ultimately, is happiness or pleasure. The conclusion of Nozick's argument then says that people do, as a matter of fact, value things besides our own happiness; the fact that people are reluctant to plug in means that at the very least, humanity values the truthfulness of its experiences.
Even accepting the theory of universal positivity, it is difficult to explain, for example, the actions of a soldier who sacrifices his life by jumping on a grenade in order to save his comrades. In this case, there is simply no time to experience positivity toward one's actions, although a psychological egoist may argue that the soldier experiences moral positivity in knowing that he is sacrificing his life to ensure the survival of his comrades, or that he is avoiding negativity associated with the thought of all his comrades dying. Psychological egoists argue that although some actions may not clearly cause physical nor social positivity, nor avoid negativity, one's current contemplation or reactionary mental expectation of these is the main factor of the decision. When a dog is first taught to sit, it is given a biscuit. This is repeated until, finally, the dog sits without requiring a biscuit. Psychological egoists could claim that such actions which do not 'directly' result in positivity, or reward, are not dissimilar from the actions of the dog. In this case, the action (sitting on command) will have become a force of habit, and breaking such a habit would result in mental discomfort. This basic theory of conditioning behavior, applied to other seemingly ineffective positive actions, can be used to explain moral responses that are instantaneous and instinctive such as the soldier jumping on the grenade. Your life goes well for you when you get what you want. Desire Satisfied= The Good Life.
Something is good for you if it satisfies your desires.
Nothing can make your life better unless you get what you want.
Desires Motivate us.
The ultimate source of value, on this view, is the satisfaction of desire. We must be clear about "satisfaction". This does not refer to any sort of feeling. Rather, it refers simply to the situation in which a person gets what he wants; his desires are satisfied. Suppose I want my children to be happy after I die.
Suppose they are, but I never know about this. Then my desire is satisfied in this sense, but I do not get any "feelings of satisfaction".
On this theory, "The Good" is the satisfaction of actual desires, no matter what they are desires for; "The Bad" is frustration of actual desires, again no matter what they are desires for.
I. Every case of desire satisfaction is intrinsically good; every case of desire frustration is intrinsically bad.
II. The intrinsic value of a desire satisfaction is equal to the intensity of the desire satisfied; the intrinsic value of a desire frustration is equal to -(the intensity of the desire frustrated).
III. The intrinsic value of a complex thing such as a life, consequence, or possible world is equal to the sum of the intrinsic values of all the desire satisfactions and frustrations that occur in that life, consequence, or world.
PE is a psychological view, based on behavior, not an ethical theory.
1. Whenever you do something, you expect to be better off as a result.
2. If you expect to be better off as a result of your actions, then you are aiming to promote your self-interest.
3. Whenever you do something, you are aiming to promote your self-interest.
1. Whenever you do something, you are motivated by your strongest desire.
2. When you are motivated by your strongest desire, you are pursuing your self-interest.
3. Therefore, whenever you do something, you are pursuing your self-interest.
PE focuses on intentions, not results.
PE aims to describe the facts of human motivation, rather than to prescribe the standards that we ought to live up to.
If PE is true, every single action is done from the hope pf personal gain... actions are never done from altruistic motives.
An ethical philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people in the society is considered the greatest good. According to this philosophy, an action is morally right if its consequences lead to happiness (absence of pain), and wrong if it ends in unhappiness (pain).
Since the link between actions and their happy or unhappy outcomes depends on the circumstances, no moral principle is absolute or necessary in itself under utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism is mainly characterized by two elements: happiness and consequentialism. Utilitarian happiness is the biggest happiness which (supposedly) every human being looks for. In utilitarianism everything useful to happiness is good. Therefore, the name of the doctrine is utilitarianism, based on the principle of utility. Utility is found in every thing which contributes to the happiness of every rational being. The criterion of good and evil is balanced between individual's happiness and the happiness of the community, "each counting in an equal way" (Bentham, Introduction in the principles of morality and legislation). Consequentialism in utilitarianism is in the fact that an action must be judged for its consequences on the happiness of the largest number. That is: my search for happiness stops when it decreases the happiness of another individual or the happiness of the largest number, of the society or the community. As personal freedom is considered in respect of the freedom of other individuals and of the community, my freedom stops when it diminishes the freedom of another individual or the well-being of the society. We could say that utilitarianism is the continuation of Roman legislation, and its modern aspect is shown in the fact that utilitarianism adds an economical, legislative and political dimension to an ethical concept, that of happiness and well-being. The modern aspect of the doctrine will evolve throughout the 19th century, with Bentham, Mill and Sidgwick who succeeds in giving to this doctrine a practical and rational dimension which we can find in our modern society, in economics, politics and ethics.
Kant, unlike Mill, believed that certain types of actions (including murder, theft, and lying) were absolutely prohibited, even in cases where the action would bring about more happiness than the alternative. For Kantians, there are two questions that we must ask ourselves whenever we decide to act: (i) Can I rationally will that everyone act as I propose to act? If the answer is no, then we must not perform the action. (ii) Does my action respect the goals of human beings rather than merely using them for my own purposes? Again, if the answer is no, then we must not perform the action. (Kant believed that these questions were equivalent).
Morality and imperatives: What does it mean for one's duty to be determined by the categorical imperative?
What is an imperative? An imperative is a command. So, "Pay your taxes!" is an imperative, as are "Stop kicking me!" and "Don't kill animals!"
Hypothetical Imperatives: these imperatives command conditionally on your having a relevant desire. E.g. "If you want to go to medical school, study biology in college." If you don't want to go to medical school, this command doesn't apply to you. Another example, your father says, "if you are hungry, then go eat something!" - if you aren't hungry, then you are free to ignore the command.
Categorical Imperatives: These command unconditionally. E.g. "Don't cheat on your taxes." Even if you want to cheat and doing so would serve your interests, you may not cheat.
What is the connection between morality and categorical imperatives? Morality must be based on the categorical imperative because morality is such that you are commanded by it, and is such that you cannot opt out of it or claim that it does not apply to you.
How does the categorical imperative work? The categorical imperative has three different formulations. That is to say, there are three different ways of saying what it is. Kant claims that all three do in fact say the same thing, but it is currently disputed whether this is true. The second formulation is the easiest to understand, but the first one is most clearly a categorical imperative. Here is the first formulation.
1) First formulation (The Formula of Universal Law): "Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law [of nature]."
a) What is a maxim? A maxim is the rule or principle on which you act. For example, I might make it my maxim to give at least as much to charity each year as I spend on eating out, or I might make it my maxim only to do what will benefit some member of my family.
b) Basic idea: The command states, crudely, that you are not allowed to do anything yourself that you would not be willing to allow everyone else to do as well. You are not allowed to make exceptions for yourself. For example, if you expect other people to keep their promises, then you are obligated to keep your own promises.
c) More detail: More accurately, it commands that every maxim you act on must be such that you are willing to make it the case that everyone always act on that maxim when in a similar situation. For example, if I wanted to lie to get something I wanted, I would have to be willing to make it the case that everyone always lied to get what they wanted - but if this were to happen no one would ever believe you, so the lie would not work and you would not get what you wanted. So, if you willed that such a maxim (of lying) should become a universal law, then you would thwart your goal - thus, it is impermissible to lie, according to the categorical imperative. It is impermissible because the only way to lie is to make an exception for yourself.