Thursday, January 29, 2009
In class on Tuesday, Nancy mentioned that many of us did not seem very receptive to John Stuart Mills' ethical concept of Utilitarianism even though Mills ideas are what many of the founding fathers drew upon when they established our democratic government system. You know, that whole idea of the majority rule, with the caveat that sometimes the voice of the minority is overlooked. I suppose it's understandable that, for many of us, the idea of "the greatest good for the greatest number" could be given such a negative connotation because, let's face it, some of the most horrific atrocities ever committed have been under the guise and justification of "for the greater good." I think that negative association of utilitarianism has permeated our culture to such a degree that many of our popular culture's most iconic and in some way, most complex, villains seem to be strong practitioners of this type of ethical philosophy (Something I would like to go into greater depth in other posts sometime, 'cause I'm a huge nerd). But the truth is, there are many schools of thought under the umbrella of Mills original, more broad, conception of the idea. Not only that but the idea of what constitutes "the greater good" and what "sacrifices" would be necessary to bring happiness to this majority are all pretty subjective ideas.