video: Episode 2, Part 2, starting at 24:12.
How are we supposed to figure out what to do in a particular,
real-life situation? Suppose that we have to choose between building a
new sports stadium and building a new hospital. According to Bentham,
we should consider how much pleasure sports fans would get if we were to build a new stadium, and how much pain
sick people would be relieved of if we were to build a new hospital. If
building the stadium would produce a greater balance of pleasure,
then we should build the stadium.
1. Is it true that happiness is simply pleasure and the absence of pain,
and that the goal of all human action should be pleasure? Or is
utilitarianism too crude as a moral doctrine?
2. Are all goods commensurable? Can they all be weighed on a common
scale, or is it possible that the value of some goods, such as love,
cannot coherently be balanced against the value of other goods, like
money? Is this a fatal problem for utilitarianism?
3. Does utilitarianism threaten individual rights? John Stuart Mill believed that protecting individual rights is the best way to increase
the sum of happiness in the long run. Was Mill right? Either way, is
this really the reason why we should not violate people’s basic rights?