If you wanna feel good…

February 13, 2007

don’t read this post!

So, do you know what utilitarianism is? Well, if you don’t, then the article in this post is going to be a wild ride! For you and me both!

Basically, utilitarianism says that we should keep the ends in mind while considering the means. Kind of like, “Let the ends justify the means,” but not at all.

Anyway, one of the typical scenarios would be the life boat problem. You’re on a lifeboat and you can only save so many people. Who do you save?

It’s a hard question. One that probably gets an answer of, “Yeah, well, that would never happen, so why even think about it?” Except for when it does happen. And then we see, “In the best of all possible worlds, I’d save everyone,” followed by, “I don’t want to make a decision.” [Note: All these thoughts come more or less directly from my own head]. And then you still have to make a decision. Or make a decision by not making a decision and let everyone die.

Anyway, now enters Peter Singer. He’s a philosopher at Princeton University. And his big thing is utilitarian ethics. One of his most famous books is called Practical Ethics. And this is his problem.

Now, he talks about a whole lot of other things (abortion, euthanasia, animal ethics, etc.), but I find this one the most pressing. For me. Mainly because it’s the only one rubs me the wrong way.

So what is it? Do we give most of our money away to help those that are in need?

Yeah, well, this will never happen.

In the best of all possible worlds, I’d like to help them and have my money.

I don’t want to make the decision.



One Response to “If you wanna feel good…”

  1. Ed A. said

    You forgot the ever popular “Let someone else do it” =)

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