26 September 2011

Line of the day

"If we really want the greatest happiness of the greatest number, we should be electing psychopathic, Machiavellian misanthropes."

I disagree with the story itself on one particular point.

The story suggests that a utilitarian might support torture under occasional or certain circumstances. I would argue that a utilitarian might support torture IF it can be found to be the most likely to produce a positive sum outcome (that is: prevent some attack or disaster), and since torture isn't likely to be the MOST likely to produce such outcomes, and has negative costs associated with it that other methods do not, then a utilitarian probably would not support torture under most circumstances. (Besides which, most people probably do support torture under such circumstances as never really exist outside of moral story problems and '24' storylines, which probably makes the utilitarian a little better off in moral terms than the average person).

But otherwise, yes. (we) Utilitarians do sort of seem like misanthropic assholes. And that's a good thing.
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