Single Idea 18626

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism]

Full Idea

The first main argument for utilitarianism is that people matter equally, and hence each person's interests should be given equal weight, and hence morally right acts will maximise utility.

Gist of Idea

One view says start with equality, and infer equal weight to interests, and hence maximum utility


Will Kymlicka (Contemporary Political Philosophy (1st edn) [1990], 2.4.a)

Book Reference

Kymlicka,Will: 'Contemporary Political Philosophy (1st edn)' [OUP 1992], p.31

A Reaction

The point is that this starts from the aim of equality, and infers maximum utility as its consequence. Equality has a primitive value. Whenever you dig down to a primitive value in a theory, I just find myself puzzled. What can justify basic equality?

Related Idea

Idea 18627 A second view says start with maximising the good, implying aggregation, and hence equality [Kymlicka]