more from Henry Sidgwick

Single Idea 4129

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

Full Idea

It is a self-evident principle that the good of one individual is of no more importance, from the point of view of the Universe, than the good of any other, ..and as a rational being I am bound to aim at good generally, not merely at a particular part.

Gist of Idea

It is self-evident (from the point of view of the Universe) that no individual has more importance than another


Henry Sidgwick (The Methods of Ethics (7th edn) [1874], III.XIII.3)

Book Reference

Sidgwick,Henry: 'The Methods of Ethics (7th edn)' [Hackett 1981], p.382

A Reaction

Showing that even a very empirical theory like utilitarianism has an a priori basis. Of course, the principle is false. What about animals, the senile, criminals, androids? What bestows 'importance'?