Utilitarianism: For and Against

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Cambridge University Press, Jan 1, 1973 - Philosophy - 155 pages
8 Reviews
Two essays on utilitarianism, written from opposite points of view, by J. J. C. Smart and Bernard Williams. In the first part of the book Professor Smart advocates a modern and sophisticated version of classical utilitarianism; he tries to formulate a consistent and persuasive elaboration of the doctrine that the rightness and wrongness of actions is determined solely by their consequences, and in particular their consequences for the sum total of human happiness. This is a revised version of Professor Smart's famous essay 'an outline of a system of utilitarian ethics', first published in 1961 but long unobtainable. In Part II Bernard Williams offers a sustained and vigorous critique of utilitarian assumptions, arguments and ideals. He finds inadequate the theory of action implied by utilitarianism, and he argues that utilitarianism fails to engage at a serious level with the real problems of moral and political philosophy, and fails to make sense of notions such as integrity, or even human happiness itself. Both authors are agreed on utilitarianism's importance: it cuts across a number of different philosophical disputes and combines a systematic account of mata-ethical problems with a distinctive and substantive moral stand. It thus is, or involves, philosophy in both the traditional and the narrower, professional sense of the word, and is a key topic (often the first topic) in introductory philosophy courses. This book should also be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LisaMaria_C - LibraryThing

This slim book was assigned reading in a philosophy course on ethics I took in college. It consists of two essays. J. J. Smart's "An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics" and Bernard William's "A ... Read full review

Review: Utilitarianism: For and Against

User Review  - Michael Kenan Baldwin - Goodreads

Deceptively easy to read, as some of Williams' critiques especially are quite subtle. Smart is the clearer of the two writers. A useful exchange. Read full review

Contents

Introductory
3
Actutilitarianism and ruleutilitarianism
9
Hedonistic and nonhedonistic utilitarianism
12
Average happiness versus total happiness 27
28
Rightness and wrongness of actions
30
The place of rules in actutilitarianism
42
Simple application of gametheory technique
57
Utilitarianism and the future
62
Introductory
77
The structure of consequentialism
82
and two examples
93
Two kinds of remoter effect
100
Integrity
108
The indirect pursuit of utility
118
Social choice
135
Bibliography
151

Utilitarianism and justice
67
A critique of utilitarianism BERNARD WILLIAMS
75
j j C SMART
152
Copyright

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About the author (1973)

Bernard Williams (1929-2003) was White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University, and Monroe Deutsch Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His previous books include "Descartes: The Project of Pure Inquiry (1979), "Moral Luck (1981), and "Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985).

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