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On the Origin of the Utilitarian Maximization Requirement

On the Origin of the Utilitarian Maximization Requirement On the Origin of the Utilitarian Maximization Requirement Wolfgang Lenzen, Universität Osnabrück 1 Introduction The most important achievement of utilitarian ethics consists in the development of a formal model which allows one to take into account the diverging interests of all individuals, %I ,…,I -, concerned by an action A. 1 n Assuming that the degree to which A affects the interests of I can be “measured” by a numerical function u (A) which expresses the utility of A for the individual I , “classical utilitarianism” holds that the total value of A, U(A) = S u (A), is the one and only criterion for the morality of A. Now there j  n j are many problems connected with this basic thesis; to mention only the most important points of critique: (1) The very existence of the function u (A) which determines the utility of A for I in a numerically precise way – say, as a rational number r measured at least on an interval scale – may appear quite doubtful. (2) It is even more doubtful whether the different functions u (A) (1 j n) might ever be constructed in an intersubjectively comparable way so that, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Philosophy and Logical Analysis Brill

On the Origin of the Utilitarian Maximization Requirement

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
2666-4283
eISSN
2666-4275
DOI
10.30965/26664275-00601009
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

On the Origin of the Utilitarian Maximization Requirement Wolfgang Lenzen, Universität Osnabrück 1 Introduction The most important achievement of utilitarian ethics consists in the development of a formal model which allows one to take into account the diverging interests of all individuals, %I ,…,I -, concerned by an action A. 1 n Assuming that the degree to which A affects the interests of I can be “measured” by a numerical function u (A) which expresses the utility of A for the individual I , “classical utilitarianism” holds that the total value of A, U(A) = S u (A), is the one and only criterion for the morality of A. Now there j  n j are many problems connected with this basic thesis; to mention only the most important points of critique: (1) The very existence of the function u (A) which determines the utility of A for I in a numerically precise way – say, as a rational number r measured at least on an interval scale – may appear quite doubtful. (2) It is even more doubtful whether the different functions u (A) (1 j n) might ever be constructed in an intersubjectively comparable way so that,

Journal

History of Philosophy and Logical AnalysisBrill

Published: Apr 5, 2003

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