David Lyons

in Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism

Published in print November 1965 | ISBN: 9780198241973
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724817 | DOI:

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Why should one suppose that it makes an important difference how the principle of utility is applied? Why should philosophers be inclined to assume that acts are assessed differently when they are assessed in respect of their generalized instead of their simple utilities? These are the questions this chapter seeks to answer. The issue may be formulated as that of extensional equivalence. The non-equivalence thesis is that there are some cases in which analogous forms of these two kinds of utilitarianism do not yield substantively identical or equivalent judgements. The line of reasoning that leads towards non-equivalence rests upon a causal factor, the threshold phenomenon. The crucial consideration in its analysis is the social context, the general pattern of behaviour, in which an act is performed.

Keywords: linearity; others' behaviour; threshold phenomenon; utility; non-equivalence

Chapter.  22240 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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