David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Utilitas 6 (02):183- (1994)
What if human joy (more technically, utility) went on endlessly? Suppose, for example, that each human generation were followed by another, or that the Western religions are right when they teach that each human being lives eternally after death. If any such possibility is true in the actual world, then an agent might sometimes be so situated that more than one course of action would produce an infinite amount of utility (or of disutility, or of both). Deciding whether to have a child born this year rather than next is a situation wherein an agent may face several alternatives whose effects could well ramify endlessly on such suppositions, for the child born this year would be a different person—one who preferred different things, performed different actions, and had different descendants—from a child born next year. It has recently been suggested that traditional utilitarianism stumbles on such cases of infinite utility. Specifically, utilitarianism seems to require, for its application, that all experience of pleasure and pain cease at some time in the future or asymptotically approach zero. If neither of these conditions holds, then the utility (and disutility) produced by each of two alternative actions may turn out to be infinite, and utilitarianism thus loses its ability to discriminate morally between them.
|Keywords||Utilitarianism Infinite utilities Infinity Vallentyne, Peter|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Peter Vallentyne (1993). Utilitarianism and Infinite Utility. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (2):212 – 217.
Peter Vallentyne (2009). Infinite Utility and Temporal Neutrality. Utilitas 6 (02):193-.
Peter Vallentyne (1995). Infinite Utility: Anonymity and Person-Centredness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73 (3):413 – 420.
Mark T. Nelson (1991). Utilitarian Eschatology. American Philosophical Quarterly 28 (4):339-47.
Jean-Paul Vessel (2005). Consequentialist Reactions to Cain's Objection From the Individual. Southwest Philosophy Review 21 (2):139-144.
P. Bartha (2007). Taking Stock of Infinite Value: Pascal's Wager and Relative Utilities. Synthese 154 (1):5 - 52.
Peter Vallentyne (2004). Infinite Utilitarianism: More Is Always Better. Economics and Philosophy 20 (2):307-330.
Hermann Vetter (1969). IV. The Production of Children as a Problem of Utilitarian Ethics. Inquiry 12 (1-4):445-447.
Fred Feldman (2006). Actual Utility, the Objection From Impracticality, and the Move to Expected Utility. Philosophical Studies 129 (1):49 - 79.
Jeff Jordan (1998). Pascal's Wager Revisited. Religious Studies 34 (4):419-431.
Daniel Hunter (1994). Act Utilitarianism and Dynamic Deliberation. Erkenntnis 41 (1):1 - 35.
William Lane Craig (2010). Taking Tense Seriously in Differentiating Past and Future. Faith and Philosophy 27 (4):451-456.
Josh Parsons (2002). Axiological Actualism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (2):137 – 147.
Dennis R. Cooley (2000). Readjusting Utility for Justice. Journal of Philosophical Research 25:363-380.
Mathias Risse (2002). Harsanyi's 'Utilitarian Theorem' and Utilitarianism. Noûs 36 (4):550–577.
Added to index2010-08-30
Total downloads24 ( #70,857 of 1,099,034 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #43,697 of 1,099,034 )
How can I increase my downloads?