Welfarism and Utilitarianism: A Rehabilitation*: Yew-Kwang Ng

Utilitas 2 (2):171-193 (1990)

Abstract
Utilitarianism seems to be going out of fashion, amidst increasing concerns for issues of freedom, equality, and justice. At least, anti-utilitarian and non-utilitarian moral philosophers have been very active. This paper is a very modest attempt to defend utilitarianism in particular and welfarism in general. Section I provides an axiomatic defence of welfarism and utilitarianism. Section II discusses the divergences between individual preferences and individual welfares and argues in favour of welfare utilitarianism. Section III criticizes some non-utilitarian principles, including knowledge as intrinsically good, rights-based ethics, and Rawls's second principle. Section IV argues that most objections to welfarism are probably based on the confusion of non-ultimate considerations with basic values. This is discussed with reference to some recent philosophical writings which abound with such confusion. Section V argues that the acceptance of utilitarianism may be facilitated by the distinction between ideal morality and self-interest which also resolves the dilemma of average versus total utility maximization in optimal population theory.
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820800000650
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
What is Equality? Part 1: Equality of Welfare.Ronald Dworkin - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (3):185-246.
Inequality.Larry S. Temkin - 1986 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (2):99-121.
Intransitivity and the Mere Addition Paradox.Larry S. Temkin - 1987 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 16 (2):138-187.

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Citations of this work BETA

Social choice ethics in artificial intelligence.Seth D. Baum - 2020 - AI and Society 35 (1):165-176.
What Should We Do About Future Generations?Yew-Kwang Ng - 1989 - Economics and Philosophy 5 (2):235.

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