Utilitarianism: For and Against

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, 1973 - Philosophy - 155 pages
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. 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. This book should be of interest to welfare economists, political scientists and decision-theorists.

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User Review  - reganrule - LibraryThing

Neat little volume, read primarily for Bernard Williams' argument against direct utilitarianism. Briefly, B. Willies argues that because direct (act) utilitarianism can in fact incorporate rules of ... Read full review

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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


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