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Christian Tractatus

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)


By defining the good in the way we have, we have adopted an essentially consequentialist (utilitarian) view.

  1. The strict consequentialist view defines an action or strategy as right if it has the highest probability of maximising1 the good. That is, if the action is expected to lead to the greatest sum of good for those capable of being influenced by it (including the agent himself).
  2. In order to perform calculations to decide right action within the consequentialist view, the good (otherwise known as utility) must be summable over individuals. This immediately leads to problems.
  3. If utility is equated with the value or quantity of some good (such as money) that is directly summable over individuals without qualification, then goods of utility X could be divided between (say) two individuals in any manner we wish with equal rightness of action. For example, we could either divide the money equally or apportion all of it to one and none to the other. In either case, the sum of utility is X, making the two options ethically indistinguishable.
  4. Similarly, no distinction could be made between selfishness and altruism. It might be ethically immaterial whether I expend my energies on providing quantity X of good for myself or for another. However, either extreme is likely to be unacceptable. The former extreme violates our principle of reflexivity, the latter additionally brings us to a situation that is only sufferable within a theistic world view with a future rewards structure.
  5. Therefore, scaling factors2 are required to ensure that no individual is left out.
  6. It is always to be noted that we do not want to constrain our individual into always making full use of resource R. He has R at his disposal, and an option open to him is to do nothing with it if the utilitarian calculations allow.
  7. This theory avoids the situation of selfish "haves" exploiting the "have nots" in two ways:
    • Application of the principle of reciprocity by the "haves", though this is not explicit in the calculations.
    • Revolutionary pressure. That is, the disadvantaged in society will be forced to act so as to increase the weighted utility of the good by taking from the "haves", who will thereby be constrained to make concessions.




Note last updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
12/08/2007 10:17:46 436 (Non-theistic Ethics - Consequentialism) Non-theistic Ethics

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Consequentialism - Algorithms Consequentialism - Maximisation      

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Summary of Note Links to this Page

Non-theistic Ethics        

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