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A TRADITIONAL VIEW OF UTILITY AND RIGHTS According to a conventional view, no project could be more hopelessly misconceived than the enterprise of attempting a utilitarian derivation of fundamental rights. We are all familiar – too familiar, perhaps – with the arguments that support this conventional view, but let us review them anyway. We may begin by recalling that, whereas the defining value of utilitarianism – pleasure, happiness or welfare – contains no mention of the dignity or autonomy of human beings, it is this value which utilitarianism in all its standard forms invokes as the criterion of right action. Worse, insofar as utilitarian policy must have as its goal the maximization of welfare conceived as an aggregate summed over the utilities of everyone affected, legal and political utilitarianism seems bound to have a collectivist bias, trading on the dangerous fiction of a social entity and ignoring the distinctness of separate selves with their several incommensurable claims. It seems that, if individuals can appear in the utilitarian calculus at all, it will only be as ciphers, abstract place-holders for units of welfare. For, as an aggregative value, utility must be indifferent to distribution, and insensitive to the preeminently distributive considerations marked by claims about rights. So, if whatever has utility can be broken down into units or elements which are subject to measurement or at least comparison by a common standard, then it will always be possible that a very great loss of welfare for one man or a few men can be justified if it produces a great many small increments of welfare for a vast multitude of men
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DOI 10.1017/s0265052500003885
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References found in this work BETA

A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Taking Rights Seriously.Thomas D. Perry - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):80-86.
Utilitarianism and Welfarism.Amartya Sen - 1979 - Journal of Philosophy 76 (9):463-489.
XII—Plural Utility.Amartya Sen - 1981 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 81 (1):193-216.
The Structure of a Set of Compossible Rights.Hillel Steiner - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74 (12):767-775.

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Citations of this work BETA

Contract Remedies and Inalienable Rights*: RANDY E. BARNETT.Randy E. Barnett - 1986 - Social Philosophy and Policy 4 (1):179-202.
Henry Sidgwick.Barton Schultz - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
¿Consecuencias, de qué? Claves de la subsistencia del Utilitarismo.Francisco Lara - 2011 - Telos: Revista Iberoamericana de Estudios Utilitaristas 18 (1):105-125.
Two Concepts of Rule Utilitarianism.Rex Martin - 2008 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (2):227-255.

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