Topic: Utilitarian Reform

Students are expected to post regularly to online class discussion. What I’m looking for is evidence that you have read and are engaging with the material, considering the questions in a serious way, and trying to contribute to the online discussion. 

Discussion One:

If we think of utilitarianism as a principle of legislation, it entails that legislators ought to adopt whatever laws bring about the great total good. With this understanding in mind, utilitarians like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill advocated a number of reforms that were quite radical for their time, including:

1. The elimination of barriers on trade and exchange, such as tariffs, price caps on goods, limitations on interest in finance.
2. Universally available public education provided by governments (via taxation) – to replace the existing structure which relied on fees for service (which most couldn’t afford).

What is the utilitarian argument for these reforms?

Reading Material: Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Chapter 1-4*


Discussion 2:

Utilitarianism Business Ethics:

One of the limitations of the otherwise quite interesting article by Gustafson is that he doesn’t really give many concrete examples of managing for higher pleasures.  So, let’s help him out:

1. What are some examples of managing to further the ability of employees, co-workers, and customers to experience higher pleasures?

2. What are some ways of conducting business that undermine our ability to experience higher pleasures?

Reading material: 

Andrew Gustafson, “Utilitarianism and Business Ethics” in Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach*

Quality responses:

  1. raise questions
  2. state and defend your view
  3. suggest counter-arguments for the position of the author or your fellow students
  4. point to something from the text that is relevant to discussion
  5. connect it to other readings from class
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