Catalogue


Utilitarianism [electronic resource] : restorations, repairs, renovations : variations on Bentham's master-idea, that disputes about social policy should be settled by statistical evidence about the comparative consequences for those affected /
David Braybrooke.
imprint
Toronto ; Buffalo : University of Toronto Press, c2004.
description
ix, 212 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0802087329 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Subjects
More Details
imprint
Toronto ; Buffalo : University of Toronto Press, c2004.
isbn
0802087329 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
10530715
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [175]-199) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
David Braybrooke is a professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at Dalhousie University and holds the Centennial Commission Chair in the Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2005-10-01:
Jeremy Bentham's "master idea" is carefully analyzed in Braybrooke's most recent work on utilitarianism. Braybrooke (Univ. of Texas, Austin) draws heavily on his earlier books, including Moral Objectives, Rules, and the Forms of Social Change (1998) and A Strategy of Decision (1963, coauthored with C. E. Lindblom). Reliance on these and other earlier texts does not detract from the new insights Braybrooke generates regarding Bentham's innovative ethical theory. Braybrooke begins with his own careful formulation of Bentham's "master idea" that "disputes about social policy should be settled by statistical evidence about the comparative consequences for those affected." He further analyzes this idea through comparisons with such key works as Samuel Scheffler's The Rejection of Consequentialism (1982), Robert E. Goodin's Utilitarianism as a Public Philosophy (1995), and William H. Shaw's Contemporary Ethics: Taking into Account Utilitarianism (1999). Additionally, Braybrooke addresses many of the traditional challenges utilitarianism faces, including questions regarding the status of moral rules, criticisms generated due to incomplete information about the future consequences of an action, and the overall role of sacrifices within the utilitarian framework. Thoughtful discussions of these challenges, and of social needs and public policy making, result in Braybrooke's "restorations, repairs, and renovations" of Bentham's master idea. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. H. Storl Augustana College (IL)
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 2005
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Summaries
Main Description
Utilitarianism, belaboured by repeated counterexamples, has fallen out of favour as an ethical theory. In Utilitarianism: Restorations; Repairs; Renovations , noted Canadian philosopher David Braybrooke revisits Jeremy Bentham's master idea that statistical evidence should determine social policies, and ? perhaps surprisingly, given Braybooke's recent championship of natural law ? dispels the discredit that standard versions of utilitarianism have invited. On the issue between rule-utilitarianism (which gives due weight to rules) and act-utilitarianism (which does not), Braybrooke argues that act-utilitarianism cannot be carried out even in principle except under the auspices of rules. He shows that the problem with not knowing all consequences ahead of time vanishes if decisions are subject to continual rounds of revision. Invoking the elementary statistical principle that groups should not be changed in membership just to get more favourable results, he disposes of the accusation that utilitarianism prescribes gratuitous life-sacrifices. Substituting comparative censuses for the hedonistic calculus that figures in standard utilitarianism, Braybrooke excludes gratuitous sacrifices also of happiness short of life-sacrifices. The census notion is proof against the self-contradictory advice that the calculus sometimes supplies. Moreover, it readily accommodates evidence about happiness and needs, both better pursued by dropping the notion of utility. Recast in these ways, utilitarianism takes on a very different guise from the standard versions; it is notwithstanding a guise congenial to Bentham's master idea, and its affinity with the utilitarian tradition and ordinary language shows up in the full intelligibility that it gives to the slogan, "the greatest happiness of the greatest number."
Description for Reader
Utilitarianism, belaboured by repeated counterexamples, has fallen out of favour as an ethical theory. In Utilitarianism: Restorations; Repairs; Renovations, noted Canadian philosopher David Braybrooke revisits Jeremy Bentham's master idea that statistical evidence should determine social policies, and - perhaps surprisingly, given Braybooke's recent championship of natural law - dispels the discredit that standard versions of utilitarianism have invited. On the issue between rule-utilitarianism (which gives due weight to rules) and act-utilitarianism (which does not), Braybrooke argues that act-utilitarianism cannot be carried out even in principle except under the auspices of rules. He shows that the problem with not knowing all consequences ahead of time vanishes if decisions are subject to continual rounds of revision. Invoking the elementary statistical principle that groups should not be changed in membership just to get more favourable results, he disposes of the accusation that utilitarianism prescribes gratuitous life-sacrifices. Substituting comparative censuses for the hedonistic calculus that figures in standard utilitarianism, Braybrooke excludes gratuitous sacrifices also of happiness short of life-sacrifices. The census notion is proof against the self-contradictory advice that the calculus sometimes supplies. Moreover, it readily accommodates evidence about happiness and needs, both better pursued by dropping the notion of utility. Recast in these ways, utilitarianism takes on a very different guise from the standard versions; it is notwithstanding a guise congenial to Bentham's master idea, and its affinity with the utilitarian tradition and ordinary language shows up in the full intelligibility that it gives to the slogan, "the greatest happiness of the greatest number."
Description for Reader
Utilitarianism, belaboured by repeated counterexamples, has fallen out of favour as an ethical theory. In Utilitarianism: Restorations; Repairs; Renovations, noted Canadian philosopher David Braybrooke revisits Jeremy Bentham's master idea that statistical evidence should determine social policies, and ? perhaps surprisingly, given Braybooke's recent championship of natural law ? dispels the discredit that standard versions of utilitarianism have invited.On the issue between rule-utilitarianism (which gives due weight to rules) and act-utilitarianism (which does not), Braybrooke argues that act-utilitarianism cannot be carried out even in principle except under the auspices of rules. He shows that the problem with not knowing all consequences ahead of time vanishes if decisions are subject to continual rounds of revision. Invoking the elementary statistical principle that groups should not be changed in membership just to get more favourable results, he disposes of the accusation that utilitarianism prescribes gratuitous life-sacrifices.Substituting comparative censuses for the hedonistic calculus that figures in standard utilitarianism, Braybrooke excludes gratuitous sacrifices also of happiness short of life-sacrifices. The census notion is proof against the self-contradictory advice that the calculus sometimes supplies. Moreover, it readily accommodates evidence about happiness and needs, both better pursued by dropping the notion of utility. Recast in these ways, utilitarianism takes on a very different guise from the standard versions; it is notwithstanding a guise congenial to Bentham's master idea, and its affinity with the utilitarian tradition and ordinary language shows up in the full intelligibility that it gives to the slogan, "the greatest happiness of the greatest number."
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 3
Restorations and Repairs That Leave Utility and the Calculus in Placep. 9
Does Utilitarianism (Bentham's Master-Idea, Applied as Hedonic Act-Utilitarianism or Otherwise) Undermine Reliable Adherence to Moral Rules? Nop. 11
Does Utilitarianism (Bentham's Master-Idea, Applied as Hedonic Act-Utilitarianism or Otherwise) Require Perfect Information about Consequences, Leaving Coordination Problems Aside? Nop. 42
Does Utilitarianism (Bentham's Master-Idea, Applied - If It Is Applied as Hedonic Act-Utilitarianism, Only with Qualifications That May Be Ascribed to Him) Ever Endorse Sacrificing Someone's Life to Make Other People Happy? Nop. 80
A Renovation That, Accommodating Utility Still, Replaces the Calculus with the Census-Notionp. 101
Does Utilitarianism (Bentham's Master-Idea, Applied Not as Hedonic Act-Utilitarianism, but in Association with the Census-Notion Rather Than the Calculus) Ever Require Substantial Gratuitous Sacrifices of Happiness on the Part of Some People to Make Other People Happier? Nop. 103
A Renovation That Makes Provision for Needs Prior to Concern with Utilityp. 131
Does Utilitarianism (Bentham's Master-Idea) Fail Because of Problems about the Intelligible Systematic Use of the Concept of Utility? Nop. 133
Envoip. 173
Notesp. 175
Acknowledgmentsp. 201
Indexp. 205
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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