Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor J.E. Thomas
Utilitarianism is the theory that morality should be governed by the aim of "maximizing satisfaction" is a highly problematic one. This thesis attempts to resolve the difficulties. After an introduction opening chapter, the main discussion begins with a defence of the hedonistic concept of "satisfaction" in terms of pleasure and the absence of pain, in oppositions to the currently more prevalent preference-oriented approach. An attempt is then made to explicate the concept of the "intensity" of a pleasure or pain. An important consequence of the discussion is that pleasure and pain cannot in fact be put on the same metrical scale. Utilitarianism is thus seen really to have two separate components-- a positive one, concerned with pleasure; and a negative one, concerned with suffering. These need to be clearly distinguished, although they will be isomorphic with respect to the solution of the maximization problem. The discussion of this problem begins in Chapter Three. It is argued that conventional solutions-- particularly Total Utilitarianism and Average Utilitarianism-- are inadequate. The extreme view that "numbers do not count" is also considered and rejected. The fourth chapter contains my own proposal. According to the latter, the concepts of "more pleasure" and "less suffering" are not unitary in character, but are to be understood in terms of a multiplicity of principles of varying degrees of validity. The concluding chapter discusses some outstanding difficulties and attempts to place the theory in a broader context. Further technical elaboration of certain aspects of the theory is contained in two appendices to the thesis.
Simmons, Howard James, "The Quantification of "Happiness" in Utilitarianism" (1986). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1127.