Utilitarianism: The Classical Principle and the Average Principle

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5 (3):409 - 419 (1975)
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Abstract

Act Utilitarianism has traditionally been regarded as the view that you should always perform the action that will bring about the greatest possible excess of happiness over unhappiness or, if there is no such alternative, the least possible excess of unhappiness over happiness.1 Following Rawls, I shall call this the classical principle. An alternative which Rawls calls the average principle is the view that you should always do the thing that will bring about the highest possible average happiness level. Rawls, Rescher and Broad2 regard the average principle as superior to the classical principle, and there are considerable grounds for supposing that Mill accepted the average principle.3 Smart favours the classical position but confesses that if someone doesn't feel the same way, he doesn't know how to argue with him.4.

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Citations of this work

Repugnance or Intransitivity: A Repugnant But Forced Choice.Stuart Rachels - 2004 - In Jesper Ryberg Torbjorn Tannsjo (ed.), The Repugnant Conclusion: Essays on Population Ethics. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 163--86.
The Repugnant Conclusion.Bill Anglin - 1977 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7 (4):745 - 754.
The repugnant conclusion.Jesper Ryberg - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Distributive Justice.J. F. Stowers - 1968 - Philosophical Quarterly 18 (73):376.

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