Utilitarianism

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UTILITARIANISM

Utilitarianism is concerned with happiness, and utilitarians accept the idea that value is universal - so utilitarians believe that the intrinsic value of happiness it is unaffected by the identity of the being in which it is felt. Thus each counts for one, and none for more than one and my own interests cannot count for more, simply because they are my own, than the interests of others. Utilitarians support equality by the equal consideration of interests - they reject any arbitrary distinctions as to who is worthy of concern and who isn't. This means that we reject egoism, racism, sexism, speciesism, and other forms of unfair discrimination. It does not mean that we deny that there are differences between individuals or between groups of individuals (some individuals are cleverer, taller, stronger, more emotional etc than others), just that there is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a difference in ability justifies any difference in the consideration we give to their interests.

Utilitarians believe that while "happiness", "pleasure", "joy", "satisfaction", "ecstasy" and so-on are not synonyms, they do all represent positively intrinsically valuable feelings; and that the value they represent is of a similar kind, and so is convertible or equivalent (in some proportion). "Pain", "suffering", "unhappiness", "agony" etc are all regarded similarly - that the disvalue they represent is convertible, not only with that of the other negative feelings, but with the positive feelings too. This means, for example, that a utilitarian might believe that it is worthwhile to endure a certain amount of suffering now, if it ensures a greater amount of happiness later.

In classical utilitarianism, happiness is regarded as positively valuable, and unhappiness (pain, suffering etc) is regarded is negatively valuable. Negative utilitarianism denies the positive aspect - it denies that happiness is intrinsically valuable. By negative...
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