Christian Ethics - Lesson 2


Through this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the concept of hedonism, which is a consequentialist ethic that believes all human beings ought to seek pleasure. You will also learn about psychological hedonism, which is the belief that all human behavior is motivated by a desire for pleasure, and why it is an inadequate psychological theory. The author points out that ethical hedonism cannot be based on psychological hedonism and that there are non-hedonistic consequentialist philosophies, although they are in the minority. You will gain insights into the difference between psychological hedonism and ethical hedonism, and the problems with basing ethical hedonism on psychological hedonism.

Ronald Nash
Christian Ethics
Lesson 2
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Philosophical Ethics

Part 1

I. Consequentialism

A. Hedonism

1. What is Hedonism?

2. Psychological Hedonism

3. Ethical Hedonism

4. Egoistic Ethical Hedonism

a. Cyrenaicism

b. Epicureanism

i. Pleasures: Intensity vs. Duration

ii. Physical Pleasures

iii. Pleasures: Body vs. Mind

iv. Moderation

5. Evaluation of Hedonism

a. Pleasure is not the highest good.

b. The single-minded pursuit of pleasure is self-defeating.

c. Pleasure is given too much importance.

B. Altruistic Hedonism

1. Jeremy Bentham

a. Quantitative Position

b. Hedonic Calculus

c. Critique of Bentham

d. Results of Bentham's Work

e. Carlyle's Statement

2. John Stuart Mill

a. Qualitative Position

b. Mill's Response to Carlyle

c. The Destruction of Hedonism

C. Ideal Utilitarianism

D. Arguments against Utilitarianism

1. It supports immoral conduct.

2. It leads to situations that are revolting, ridiculous and immoral.

3. Examples

E. Recent Developments in Utilitarianism

1. Act Utilitarianism

3. Argument against Rule Utilitarianism

  • Gain insights into philosophical ethics and Christian responses, and the Christian role in society regarding the state, justice, economics, and education.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Nash introduces you to the concept of hedonism, which is an example of a consequentialist ethic. He reviews non-hedonistic consequentialist philosophies, psychological hedonism, and ethical hedonism.
  • This lesson introduces you to the theory of deontological ethics and Emmanuel Conte. You will learn that the deontological ethic judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved.
  • In this lesson you will learn about the system of ethics that focuses on virtue and introduces the Four Cardinal Virtues, which are temperance, wisdom, justice, and courage, and emphasizes the importance of being the right kind of person who possesses the traits of character, and C.S. Lewis's book "Christianity" provides an informative treatment of the Four Cardinal Virtues and the Three Theological Virtues.
  • You will gain insight into C.S. Lewis's views on Christian ethics and the morality analogy he presents, where morality is like a fleet of ships that must fulfill three conditions to succeed: every ship must run properly, the relations between ships must be proper and orderly, and the fleet must head to the right destination.
  • You will learn about the importance of distinguishing between society and the state. Society is a voluntary organization of people, while the state is the group of people who claim a monopoly on the use of coercive force within a geographic boundary. By understanding this difference, you can prevent the government from interfering with your voluntary associations.
  • You will gain an understanding of how the professor's theory of the state in Social Justice in the Christian Church aligns with the New Testament. He explains that the state is a God-ordained institution to check against sin, and he is a moderate anti-statist who recognizes the need for government but also the inherent evil in any concentration of human power. The New Testament recognizes constraints upon governmental power, and Revelation 13 is an example of how the state can symbolize anti-Christian government. The lesson also discusses the concept of justice and how it is often invoked without a clear understanding, suggesting that Christians should study ancient Greece for a better comprehension of the term.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insight into the evangelical civil war that happened 20 years ago, learn about its early stages recorded by Clark Penick, understand the harmful effects of left-wing evangelicalism, and see how many evangelicals on the left became enamored with their own self-virtue in what they thought was a crusade to help the poor.
  • By studying this lesson, you will gain insight into the major differences between capitalism, socialism, and interventionism. You will learn that interventionism is often responsible for economic crises that are attributed to capitalism. You will also learn about the overlapping and continuum nature of economic systems and the gray area where an economic system may be viewed as socialism or interventionism.
  • This lesson discusses the decline of old liberation theology and how some of its proponents are now advocating for capitalism and democracy as being what the poor of the third world need, and presents shocking quotations from individuals characterized as evangelical, such as Jose Marquez Bonino, who promotes Marxism and praises tyrants like Castro and Mao Tse tung, as well as material about the three major kinds of Marxism that have existed in the world.
  • This lesson will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of interventionism and its role in the Great Depression, including the fact that blaming capitalism for the depression is based on four myths, and that interventionism actually deepens recessions by disguising the information produced by a market economy.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the crisis facing American education, as highlighted by Alan Blum's book The Closing of the American Heart and the author's complementary book. The focus is on the importance of values, standards, and morality in education, and the need to reopen the American heart to reopen the American mind. The lesson introduces the three kinds of illiteracy currently affecting Americans at every level of the educational process, with a particular emphasis on functional illiteracy, which refers to the inability to read, write, or use numbers well enough to get along in society.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about the incompetency of public school teachers in America, caused by academically weak students being attracted to the profession, lack of content courses in their college curriculum, unimpressive and radical left-winged professional educationists, and the National Education Association being an enemy of America's young people, with four essential steps to improve education, including getting a clear focus on the educational role of the family, increasing local control of education, changing the curriculum to prepare students for life after school, and changing teacher education programs.
  • Gain knowledge of the difference between the biblical ethic and other philosophical systems. Though it may seem simple, it is an underlying system that can lead to complex issues. The divinely revealed scriptures are the starting point for moral reflection, but not a ready-made answer. Some New Testament commandments are archaic or obsolete, and many modern moral problems are not discussed in the Bible.
  • You will gain insight into the pro-life stance and be equipped to inform others. Christians need not be timid about talking about these issues.
  • This lesson explores the arguments and counterarguments surrounding abortion, arguing for caution and conservatism in ending any life, emphasizing the need to balance the right of the mother with the rights of the infant, and briefly touching on the issue of rape and how it complicates the matter.
  • As you go through the lesson, you will learn about infanticide and euthanasia, and how the disrespect for unborn human life has led to an increase in cases of infanticide, along with some suggestions for what Christians should do in the case of children born with life-threatening handicaps.
  • In this lesson, you will explore the five major passages of Scripture related to homosexuality, including different interpretations of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and concludes that the Bible clearly condemns homosexual activity.
  • This lesson explores the topic of capital punishment in the context of Christian beliefs, arguing for consistency and emphasizing the need to view Old Testament laws in the context of specific situations that are no longer applicable.
  • This lesson discusses the three approaches to war and peace and distinguishes between principled pacifists and hypocritical, unprincipled pacifists, who are members of the political left and denounce American military actions but support violent revolutionary organizations.
  • You will gain an understanding of the growing issue of divorce and remarriage within the church, the responsibilities of Christian leaders in addressing it, and the need for Christians to think through what the Scripture teaches on these matters and formulate principles that will guide their thinking and conduct.
  • This lesson provides insight into how responsible Christians can make ethical decisions about birth control, considering the importance of intention, distinguishing between ethically acceptable and unacceptable forms of birth control, and emphasizing the importance of wise and careful means in achieving family planning goals.

Theoretical and theological basis for Christians  living an ethical life.

Dr. Ronald Nash

Christian Ethics



Lesson Transcript


I want to introduce you to several major strains of consequentialist thinking and the best place and the usual place to begin the study of consequential lessons is with hedonism. Hedonism is not only one example of a consequentialist ethic, it is perhaps the major example of consequentialist. There are non hedonistic consequentialist or I love that sentence. I love. Let me repeat it because I've never uttered that sentence before. There are non consequentialist I'm sorry. There are non hedonistic consequentialist in the history of philosophy, but they're they belong to the minority there. Aren't you glad you heard me say that? So we're going to talk about hedonism. Those of you who took the history of philosophy course last fall will have heard much of what I'm going to present over the next 10 minutes. But that's okay. It's so good that you'll enjoy hearing at the second time anyway, I hope. Hedonism. What is it? Well, in order to define hedonism, we really need to make a distinction between psychological hedonism and ethical hedonism. I'm not going to say any more about psychological hedonism, except to give you a definition of it. Psychological hedonism is the belief that all men do, in fact, always seek pleasure. Psychological hedonism is a descriptive theory. It reports what it said, what it believes to be the case and what it believes to be the case is this No matter what you do in life, a psychological hedonist believes you are motivated by a desire for pleasure. Now some people say, Well, what about the mother who rushes into a burning building to save her baby? She's not seeking pleasure, but the psychological hedonist would say, Yes, she is. No matter what a human being does, what they ultimately want is pleasure. The reason the mother rushes into that building is because she cannot she cannot stand the prospect of living the rest of her life without her baby, let's say. So her action is not altruistic. She is really trying to avoid future pain for herself or secure future pleasure for herself. Now, even though I don't have more time to talk about psychological hedonism here, I hope you will all realize that this is an inadequate psychological theory. I tell you, if you want to know what's wrong with psychological hedonism, go to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy. And I think the big article on hedonism will introduce you to the major problems with this work. We're concerned in this course with ethical hedonism, and that is the view that says all men ought to seek pleasure. Notice there's a difference between saying all men do, in fact seek pleasure and saying all men ought to seek pleasure. There's an irony in the history of ethics that some people have tried to base ethical hedonism upon psychological hedonism. Jeremy Bentham, for example, a man whom I'll talk about probably next week. He lived in the 18th century, 19th century. Jeremy Bentham said ethical hedonism is true because it follows from psychological hedonism. That's a bad, bad line of thinking. Here's why. Ethical hedonism. When it says all men ought to seek pleasure implies that men could seek something other than pleasure. Think about that. When I tell you you ought to do something. I'm assuming that you could do otherwise. That's why I'm telling you. You ought to do it. So many philosophers have noticed that if ethical hedonism is true, then psychological hedonism cannot be true. It cannot be true that all men ought to seek pleasure and that they do, in fact, seek pleasure at the same time. If somebody cannot help but seek pleasure, why would you tell him that? He ought to seek pleasure. You follow me? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. So we're not going to be talking any more about psychological hedonism. We're going to be talking about ethical hedonism, which is the belief that pleasures the highest good, which is the belief that all human beings ought to seek pleasure. All right. Now there's a further distinction to make. We can ask whose pleasure should we seek? And so we have a difference between egoistic, ethical hedonism. Whose pleasure are we talking about in this case? My own pleasure. That's right. If I am an egoistic hedonist, I believe that I have a duty to seek my own pleasure. Lots of students like the ring of that. I've often wondered what a television preacher, how successful he might be if he'd go on television and preach the gospel of egoistic hedonism. Well, I might. I don't have to speculate. There are preachers who would take the health and wealth gospel. What is that? But egoist? Well, forgive me for that. I should not. I should not say things like that. The other kind of ethical hedonism is altruistic hedonism. Whose pleasure should I be seeking under this view of things? The pleasure of other people. That's not quite as exciting as it is not quite as exciting. In fact, the famous maxim of the major altruistic hedonist goes like this. So act in such a way that you already seek the happiness of the greatest number of people. Oh, boy, that's great. Now, there's a further distinction we can make. Oh, I love these distinctions. In the history of ethics, there were two classic versions of egoistic hedonism. And those of you who took the history of philosophy course know what they were. Can anybody remember what was the first version of Egoistic Hedonism way back in ancient Greece? Serena says, That's wonderful. Give yourself an A Sierra Nazism. And the founder of Serena's CISM was a man named Error Steppers, who was a contemporary of Socrates in ancient Athens. And the second version of Egoistic Hedonism was that developed by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who lived Oh, after the time of Aristotle. The cynics were people whose approach to the moral life can be summed up in these words. All pleasure is the highest good. My pleasure is the highest good. The pleasure of my body is the highest good. The pleasure of my body at this particular moment is the highest good. Now, I want to suggest that all of us are going to run into people who think that way. All of us know people have met people like that already in our lives. As some of you know, the Syrian philosophy of life can be summed up in the phrase eat, drink and be merry. For tomorrow, we may die. The cynic said, Don't worry about tomorrow. Get as much residual pleasure now as you can get because you may not be alive tomorrow in order to get more of that physical pleasure. Back when I was younger. This used to be the moral philosophy of the average college sophomore. Then I went to a Christian college. But things have changed, and this is now the moral philosophy of the average high school sophomore, I suspect. And there are lots of other people in the world who drink and be married for tomorrow. We may die, as some of you know. What I find interesting in all of this is the fact that when we look for counsel and wise advice to shun this way of life, we don't we don't have to direct people to scripture. Let's suppose you're in your office in ten years, all right? And you're shingle is out that says the Ayatollah just or whatever. And some kid with some teenager with really serious moral problems comes in, you know, and you find out that this kid doesn't know anything, doesn't care about the moral life. Let's say that his life exemplifies the Syrian attitude. Well, you could, of course, reach for your Bible, and that might not be a bad thing to do. But there are many people who would be more influenced in in certain kinds of settings. If you simply said to them, well, let me tell you about the great Epicurus and how he reacted with how he reflected about this physical, sensual, this crude, sensual hedonism that has characterized your life up to now. Epicurus was an egoistic hedonist. He believed that the highest good is my own pleasure. But Epicurus made some distinctions that you don't find in the simplistic world view of the ceramics. For example, Epicurus recognized the difference. I'm going to erase some material here so we can use the other book. Rest of the board. Epicurus recognized that some pleasures are more intense than others, and other pleasures last longer than others. We could call this intensity versus duration. Now it just so happens that the pleasures of the body are very intense and we won't get too graphic here. All right. But certain physical pleasures can be so intense that they can literally knock a person over. Wow. What a pleasure. The downside to physical pleasure is that they're very fleeting. They don't last very long. You may have put down last Thanksgiving. All right. It's a great day to eat, isn't it? Thank God we live in America and not in Moscow on Thanksgiving Day. But quite frankly, what clicks are you getting today from the pleasures you got from last Thanksgiving's dinner? Physical pleasure is intense, but it doesn't last very long. So just keep in mind that duration is something that you ought to consider. All right. There's also been the pleasures of the body versus the pleasures of the mind. Now, Epicurus noticed something else. He noticed that the pleasures of the mind, the pleasures of the body, rather presuppose pain. You cannot experience the pleasures of the body unless you, first of all, experience pain. Now we have a we have a special name for that special kind of pain. We call it Death desire. What? You cannot enjoy the pleasures of eating unless you are hungry. And hunger is a lack a need. And if the hunger goes unsatisfied long enough, it becomes a gnawing pain in the pit of your stomach. All right. So the pleasures of the body presuppose physical pain. Moreover, Epicurus said over indulgence in the pleasures of the body produces physical pain. If you overdo it. With regard to any physical activity, you are going to experience pain. I haven't played golf in seven months and I went out a few weeks ago, tore the course to pieces. I mean, they had to close it down the next day. And I know the pain. The pain. That's what overindulgence in physical activity will do. Well, Epicurus had a very simple approach to life that went like this. If you are a hedonist, you are not only interested in getting as much pleasure as you can get, you're also interested in avoiding as much pain as possible. What sense does it make to achieve? Let's say 100 units of pleasure, which are then followed by 200 units of pain. That is not the conduct of a sensible hedonist. It isn't. Now what I used to do and I had, of course, while living college sophomores as my students, was I used to take them through a homecoming weekend where this particular college sophomore, who was also a student in my ethics class, would begin his boozing and his carousing at 6 p.m. on Friday. All right. So that by midnight on Friday, let's say, this college sophomore had managed to achieve 300 units of pleasure. Now, we will not graphically describe how he obtained those 300 units of pleasure. Now, let me tell you, that's coming close to the Grauman's of to the world record. All right. 6 hours, 300 units of pleasure. That's pretty big. All right. But this guy keeps going, all right? He's always got a bottle of something with him, and he's always doing it by cell by, let's say, Saturday morning, Saturday, 6 a.m. He's up to 400 units of pleasure piece going. Of course, there's a law of diminishing returns here. So let's say by the time the weekend is over, no sleep. Three cases of beer, lots of other things that he's done. He's reached a maximum of 450 units. And then comes Monday morning and he crawls out of bed and I mean crawl. All right. And as he's crawling through the bathroom, he's vomiting every step of the way. He drops his face in the van, but now he wants to die so that for the next 24, 36 hours, he experiences 600 units of pain. Epicurus says this guy is one dumb hedonist with pleasure is the highest good. That pain is the greatest evil. In fact, Epicurus said, if we could just come out right. That would be ideal if we could just get there, if we could just live a life that would give us a little balance of one unit of pleasure over everything else that would be really living. Now, this kind of reflection led Epicurus to advise people that the wise hedonist will avoid the pleasures of the body. Because when you pursue the pleasures of the body too extreme, you're going to lose more than you can win. We're going to lose because you're going to have to experience mood or hunger. Many of you have seen the movie Cool Hand Luke, where Luke bets people that he can eat so many hard boiled eggs. All right. Remember that scene in that movie? By the end of that scene, I'm ready to throw up myself. But let's first hard boiled egg that Luke eats. Paul Newman eats no croutons, little pepper on it. Little mayonnaise is pretty good. But remember, he's got to eat so many hard boiled eggs and, what, five or 10 minutes? So within no time at all, they're shoving hard boiled eggs. And there was face. The pleasure doesn't lie. It's pretty hard to find any pleasure in that situation. You can't enjoy eating unless you're hungry. You can't enjoy drinking unless you're thirsty. The same applies to all other physical pleasures. They're my first and second year in Western Kentucky University. A student at Tennessee Tech set the world's record for drinking consecutive bottles of Coca-Cola. I think he drank 20 in a row. He may have enjoyed the first one. You know, when you're thirsty, let me let me get out my apple juice. Simulate this guy. All right. I'm thirsty right now. I've been talking for 2 hours. Oh, is that good? But let me tell you, if somebody forced me to drink 30 or 40 of these in a row, I don't think I'd enjoy the last 20 or 25. This guy drank 20 to 25 bottles of Coke in a row. I often said to my students, I said, Girls, imagine that you were out beating that guy. That might be a bad thing. Every time the guy moves, you know, belching all over the place. Well, he's also suffering great pain. So what Epicurus is message is this live a life of moderation. Dare indulge in the pleasures of the body, enjoy them. And you must eat to survive. You must. But do it in moderation, not to excess. Rather, Epicurus said, pursue the pleasures of the mind because they do not presuppose pain in order to enjoy them over overindulgence in the pleasures of the mind does not produce pain and the pleasures of the mind Last and last and last the last longer. So Epicurus, his advice to women would be Get me to a nunnery. That's the life of the hedonist of the Epicurean. Get the tour memory. I suppose Epicurus is advice to men would be better somehow. I don't know. Look what you have so little money that you will not be able to over and overdo the pleasures of the body. Right. Amen. Okay, So at this particular this particular set of insights from Epicurus, I think does contain an important antidote to the excesses of the chronic. But now here is a brief and quick evaluation of even Epicurus hedonism from a Christian perspective. What one? One could be a Christian hedonist. All right, you could be. But I think if you were a Christian hedonist, even though you ended up living an exemplary life, a life of moderation and temperance and so on, there would still be elements of your moral philosophy that would be unacceptable. I think on biblical grounds, let me just offer. Well, in fact, what I'm going to do here. Or is offer some other philosopher's criticisms of hedonism. And I want to suggest there's other philosophers. Criticisms of hedonism are in tune with what I think a wise Christian would want to say. Take this argument, for example. Let's let's call it oh, for want of a better word. Let's call it argument number one. All right. Argument number one would go like this. It would say, look, hedonism cannot be the highest good because it hedonism really the highest good. Then it would follow by definition that all pleasures were good, but all pleasures are not good. There are many pleasures in life that are positively evil. And so the minute you recognize a difference between good pleasure and evil pleasure, the minute you recognize the difference between good pleasure and either pleasure, you are admitting that there is something in the scale of values that is higher than pleasure itself. There is something else that sits in judgment over pleasure and makes it possible for us to distinguish between those pleasures that are good and most pleasures that are evil. So and so. Anybody who recognizes admits that there is at least one either pleasure in life cannot be a hedonist, even an epicurean kind of hedonist. Now, this argument, of course, comes from a fairly famous philosopher, but the Christian, I think, wants to agree with this philosopher. His name is Plato. You have to put it in another way. Plato said If pleasure and goodness are equivalent, if pleasure and goodness are equivalent, then there can be no such thing as an evil pleasure. But there are evil pleasures. The pleasure of the rapist, for example, the pleasure of those perverted people in the Nazi movement who got their kicks from murdering women and murdering anybody. What all of that shows is that pleasure and the good are not equivalent and therefore hedonism is false. Amen. Good argument. Argument number two. Again, it comes from a famous philosopher, but I think it's a it's a line of thinking that Christians should or should welcome. The second line of argument is sometimes called the paradox of hedonism. It's kind of a psychological argument that invites people to reflect upon those times when they have achieved pleasure in their lives. The paradox of hedonism can be summed up in this sentence. The paradox of hedonism recognizes that the single minded pursuit of pleasure is always self-defeating. The single minded pursuit of pleasure is always self-defeating. Now, what that means is this The more a human being seeks pleasure consciously and directly, the less that person's going to experience pleasure. You experience pleasure by pursuing other things. What you do is you say, I think I want to read a good book or see a good movie or listen to good music. Hard to find good music these days. So but the last thing you're thinking about is pleasure. You're thinking about music or literature or arts or something. And then all of a sudden you find that you're experiencing pleasure. But the more you focus on pleasure, the less pleasure you're going to get. That's the paradox of hedonism. Well, I won't embarrass you by asking for testimony time here, you know. But I daresay that when we were growing up and this might have been true in my case when I was a teenager, there might have been a weekends when we all looked forward to a weekend of pleasure and found that there wasn't much pleasure there, because pleasure was two parameters to preeminent. And I think it's when you forget pleasure and focus on other things. Friendship. Love, baby. You know, just once. Just once, I'd like to hit a good three iron shot. All right. Just one. Oh, boy. When you do it. Oh. Now, what you don't do is use as you're addressing the ball, you say, Oh, I want pleasure in the next 30 seconds. No, come on. Don't ever play golf with somebody like that. Stay away from Richie. Singers. I just want to hit this ball on the sweet spot. On what? I want this thing to go 180 yards, and I want it to go straight. And I want it to nestle down gently. Two feet from the pin. Well. Oh, Ecstasy. No Pleasure. No, no. But that doesn't happen very often. Okay. That argument comes from Aristotle. Pretty good argument. And finally, the third observation, and it too, comes from Aristotle, who said the big problem with hedonism is it pays it gives pleasure too much importance in the human life. Now, Aristotle said pleasure is important and Christians ought to recognize this. But we need to realize that pleasure is only one part of a well-rounded life, only one part. And if you put it in perspective, you'll get it and you'll enjoy life. But if you become a slave to pleasure. Your life will get messed up. So Aristotle said, Recognize the pleasure is important, but keep it in balance. Keep it in perspective. What else? Those are some good tips. I think that we as Christians can can resonate with our hedonists, implying that pleasure is purely subjective. No, they never really got that far in their thinking. In fact, it is very difficult to define the word pleasure even today. Pleasure is a very complex phenomenon. You can write that down and laminated and plastic and carry it next to your heart for the rest of your life. What is pleasure? Not much. I'm going to experience and pleasure, and I take a swig of apple juice. Oh, that's certainly better than not taking a swig of apple juice at that moment. But what are the factors that went into that pleasure that I experienced at that moment? I'll give you another example. I'll call my hair. I always get pleasure when I cut my hair, but look at what goes on in that pleasure. I don't know. It's very difficult to explain. Probably impossible to explain. Let me just suggest something that you might want to do, and that is go over and get the encyclopedia philosophy and read the article on pleasure. My guess is you're not going to get a whole lot of help out of that article. And that may not necessarily be the fault of the guy who wrote it. It's a very tough thing to explain. We know what pleasure is, but we don't necessarily know. We know what it is to feel pleasure, but we don't necessarily know what pleasure is. Okay. Now we're going to pursue our search for hedonism further, and we're now going to turn our attention to altruistic hedonism, the word heavyweight, over 2000 years. For somebody to come along and defend altruistic hedonism. Now there are two there were two major thinkers who represented altruistic hedonism in the 19th century. One of them was Jeremy Bentham, who lived from 1748 to 1832, an Englishman, of course. The other famous altruistic hedonist was John Stuart Mill, one of England's most famous thinkers in the 19th century. He lived from 1806 to 1873. Now, we might add one more thing to our little chart on the board. We might say that Jeremy Bentham represented a quantitative theory, a quantitative position, a position that emphasized the quantity of pleasure. And John Stuart Mill represented a, quote, a qualitative position, a position that stressed the role of quality and pleasure. Let me quickly go over this. Jeremy Bentham said, Since pleasure is the highest good. It follows that the more pleasure, the better. Anybody want to disagree with that? The pleasure is the highest good. Then the more pleasure, the better. And what better way to to produce pleasure than to bring happiness to the greatest number of people? And so was coined the alternative name for altruistic hedonism. The world began to call thinkers like this advocates of utilitarianism. They were utilitarians. Now, Jeremy Bentham refused to introduce any considerations of quality of pleasure into his thinking. For Jeremy Bentham, the only thing that mattered was the quantity of pleasure. Moral considerations are all about qualitative differences among pleasure. Now, what Bentham did was develop something that he called the hedonist calculus. He said it was so easy to calculate the quantity of pleasure that would follow from certain kinds of action that any dumbbell could could lose what he called the hedonist calculus and thus discover what he should do in life. So here's how he done it. Calculus worked. What you would do is set up the two courses of action that you were considering. I suppose it might be, let's say, paying your taxes and not paying your taxes. What should I do? What What advice would he Donald calculus give me for this? And then you then you take seven criteria and I'm going to give them to you. But you really can. Well, I'll give them to you. You consider the intensity of pleasure and pain. You consider the duration, you consider the certainty, you consider the partners. And there were seven there were three others so that there were seven criteria. And then what you do is this. You begin to calculate the approximate amounts of pleasure and pain that you would get if you pay your taxes. And if you don't pay your taxes. Well, I don't pay my taxes, then I have all of that extra money to shower upon myself. So let's say that gives me 100 units of pleasure. Okay? If I don't if I don't pay my taxes, I get 100 units of pleasure. But what if I get caught? Well, then we. Well, we'll just hold that off. If I do pay my taxes, I'm going to suffer 100 units of pain. I won't have that money to do anything with the duration. Well, if I don't pay my taxes, you know, I can I can put that money in the bank and I can be drawing interest on it. And we play all these games anyway. Jeremy Bentham says at the end of the process, at the end of the process, you pick that action that has the greatest surplus of pleasure over pain and that's what you should do. But the catch is this the last factor that Bentham factors into? Is he done? A calculus is the extent that is the number of people who are affected by what you do, the number of people who are affected by what you do. Now you see, I guess Bentham might say if everybody didn't pay their taxes, then look at the pain and suffering that would follow from this. I'm not greatly moved by any of this. I want you to realize that the end result was that for Bentham it was a purely mechanical process. You could let a computer do it. You could, you could by I can see I can see the RadioShack people now buying a moral decision making computer. PC All right. And it's programed and then you buy some program. And then what you do is whenever you face a moral decision, just just put in the numbers for your whodunit calculus and the computer will think about it for a few minutes and then out will come the decision. You know what you should do. It takes all of the agony out of moral decision making. Just let your computer do it. And it's done solely on the basis of the quantity of pleasure. Well, this, of course, is is absurd. The moral life isn't this simple. You can't just play games with numbers. You can't even quantify pleasure and pain. The whole procedure is nonsense. After Bentham's book appeared, a lot of people who were sympathetic to hedonism were embarrassed by the silliness of this, by the simplistic approach that Bentham took. And so two things happened, and they're very important in the history of hedonism, and they're very important in the history of utilitarianism. First of all, a famous anti utilitarian name, Thomas Carlyle, uttered a famous statement that threw down the gantlet to all utilitarians. Thomas Carlyle said, And this is such an important statement, I'm going to write it on the board. Thomas Carlyle How do you spell his name? I don't know. Let's try that anyway. He wrote Hedonism is a pig's philosophy to which Bentham, at one of the board meetings reportedly said in a pig's eye, It is, but I don't know. Here's what Thomas Carlyle meant. This is good stuff. He's on target here. He said if the good life is simply increasing the quantity of pleasure, then there's no difference between a human being and a pig snooping around in the mud. So said Thomas Carlyle, because the pig snooping around in the mud could possibly experience a great deal of pleasure. But you see, Carlyle said there's a difference between, in fact, somebody's somebody. In fact, I've got to look up who said this. Somebody said it is better. You might put this in your notes. It is better to be Socrates. Satisfied than a pig. Satisfied? Same in. In other words, there are certain things that are unique to the human life that cannot be reduced to anything as simple as pleasure. The life of a dissatisfied Socrates is far more valuable than a life of a contented pig. Now, you might think this debate is a little silly. All right. But this really was a big deal in the 19th century. Now, John Stuart Mill came along. He was a he was in his early life a follower of Bentham and a follower of utilitarianism. John Stuart Mill recognized that Carlyle had backed the Utilitarians into a corner. He was making them look silly. And so Mill said, I've got to find a way of defending utilitarianism that does justice to Carlyle's challenge. And the only way I can defend utilitarianism against the claim that it is a pigs philosophy is to introduce the notion of quality to pleasure. And so what John Stuart Mill did in his book called Utilitarianism, he's the guy who coined that word. He wrote a book with that title with John Stuart Mill did was defend the notion that some pleasures are better than other pleasures. Now, Do your instincts resonate with that intuition? Reading Pushkin is better than reading. And then I have to think of the I don't I don't know who's who's writing this junkie literature these days. Pushkin is a famous Russian author reading Shakespeare. The pleasure you get from even though you may not get a great deal of quantity of pleasure from reading Shakespeare, even that little quantity of pleasure from reading Shakespeare is superior to the pleasure you get from reading Garfield or reading Peanuts or Doonesbury. This is Mills line of Defending Hedonism. Now, Mill did get into a little problem here, which I won't pursue. And one of his problems was how do we know whose pleasures are superior to other people's pleasures? Isn't this a kind of subjective thing? I mean, you may get more pleasure from reading peanuts than you get from Shakespeare. And then, of course, we all know the kind of person you are. You probably have a great future in the ministry. Oh, but Mill did have the problem. Whose pleasure, Carl? When we come down to this matter of determining better pleasures from worse pleasures. Inferior pleasures. Right. What Mill's position, what Mill's answer on that of reduced to was this. Just follow my gut, follow my direction. My instincts and intuitions on pleasure are better than yours. That's what Mill obviously thought. But now, Mill, get this in your notes is an important transition statement. Mill thought he was rescuing utilitarianism for all time, when in fact he was destroying it. And this is the reason why, once a hedonist recognizes that some pleasures are superior qualitatively to other pleasures, he is, in effect, abandoning hedonism. Let me try and help you see this. I want you to imagine two pleasures pleasure, a whatever it is and pleasure be. Now we can consider the quantity of pleasure here. But what Mill is saying is we also want to recognize that pleasure be which could be the pleasure you get from playing chess as opposed to the pleasure you get from bowling. All right. If you say that the pleasure of be is higher than the pleasure of a, then you are comparing both pleasures according to some higher standard, which is not pleasure. There is a higher standard here. And you're saying Pleasure B does a better job of satisfying that standard than pleasure. But what you're doing when you do that is admitting that there is something higher than pleasure that is good and that is inconsistent with hedonism. John Stuart Mill gave the whole world the only reason it needs to abandon hedonism, i.e. the recognition that some pleasures are superior to other pleasures independent of their quantity. Well, we must hurry on here. After John Stuart Mill hedonism took a different turn. Let me let me just quickly put a different kind of chart on the board. What I'm writing on the board now is utilitarianism. And we've we've taken a look at what we've called hedonistic utilitarianism. That would be the work of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill in the 19th century after mill utilitarianism took a decidedly non hedonistic course. We call it ideal utilitarianism. Now, all the term ideal utilitarianism means is it's utilitarianism of a non hedonistic variety. Hedonism gets tossed out the window. Now I'm going to sum up these two positions in these two expressions. Hedonistic, hedonistic utilitarianism always act in such a way that your actions produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people. That's hedonistic utilitarianism. Ideal utilitarianism said, always act in such a way that your actions produce the greatest amount of good for other people. See, we're no longer talking about happiness. We're no longer talking about pleasure. We're simply saying perform those actions whose consequences produce more good overall than any alternative action. The major British philosopher whose name is associated with ideal utilitarianism was George Edward Moore. G.E. Moore, a man who wrote his great book, Principia Ethic in the year 1903. Now, I'm sure I've given you arguments against hedonism. Now I want to put the nail in the coffin of consequential ism. I want to give you a couple of major reasons why no Christian ought to be any kind of utilitarian or consequentialist or teleology. All right. Of all of the ethical theories open to us, utilitarianism or consequential ism is the one is the weakest one, I am convinced. Here are a couple of considerations. Consequentialist ethics should be rejected because they can be used to support conduct that is that is immoral. A consequentialist ethics should be repudiated because it should. It can support conduct that is immoral. And let me let me let me quickly jump to the second point, which is really a kind of variation on the same theme. Consequential ism, a consequentialist ethic is consistent with implications that are sometimes revolting or ridiculous or morally unacceptable. That maybe is a better way to put it than that first point. Consequentialist ethics will lead to situations that are sometimes revolting or ridiculous or immoral. Some examples. I want you to imagine a country in which 90% of the people get pleasure or get happiness from torturing the other 10% of the people. Now, you don't have to think very hard to come up with countries in the history of the world to come close to this. All right. Suppose in Germany now this was not true, of course, because many Germans had no idea what was going on and the state didn't even know the concentration camps existed. But every member of the Nazi Party did. But just imagine a country where the 90% majority delights in torturing the 10% of the people. Now, those other 10% could be Jews. All right. As has been the case or you can imagine a country where the majority takes delight in torturing Baptists, for example, or persecuting Presbyterians. Consequentialist is a moral theory that would that would be happy with that kind of situation. You see, consequential ism runs contrary to what we know about justice, about what we know as the right. Here's another example. In his book, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley pictures a world that is hedonistic, satisfying, but ethically revolting. Imagine, imagine a society that invents a happiness pill. All right? So that everybody in this society takes this happiness pill and they feel all of the pleasures. They feel all of the happiness that is needed to satisfy the ideals of a mill or a Bentham or anybody else. But once you take this happiness pill, you then engage in no meaningful or rewarding activity at all. You don't write books. You don't study. You don't. You don't play music. You don't do anything but simply lay around and feel happy. Now, that would be a society that would be endorsed by any of these hedonistic models that we've examined because all of the pleasure is there, but none of the other things that are necessary for a well-rounded society would be there. Here's another example. Imagine two people. Suppose Person one experiences 50 years of pleasure while doing while pursuing a life of complete idleness, 50 years of pleasure while pursuing a life of complete idleness versus a second person who experiences 49 years of equal pleasure from intellectual and noble pursuits. Now, which of these two people live the better life? The consequentialist would say, the lazy slob who lived, who had 50 years, as opposed to the noble intellectual self negating life of the other person. Or finally, consider two communities that have equal amounts of pleasure and pain. In other words, you have the same amount of pleasure and community one as you have in community two. But suppose in community one you have people who are vicious, selfish, unjust and sensual, whereas in community to the pleasure is derived from goodness and love and self-giving. But the amount of pleasure is the same. You a utilitarian would have to tell you that these two communities are equal in value. Now, what I'm trying to help you see is that utilitarianism runs contrary to all of our basic moral intuitions. It must be clear that concentration upon consequences alone does not lead us to a morally satisfying result. And so we must look elsewhere if we are to find an adequate moral theory. What has happened in the history of ethics since John Stuart Mill and since the whole 20th century debate that has really kicked hedonism and consequential ism around is that there has been one more distinction made in the history of utilitarianism. If any of you run into a professor these days who is a utilitarian, you'd better be a little careful. The argument that I've given you in the whole history that I've given you is adequate up to the start of the 20th century. But some things have happened in the last 40, 50 years that make it possible for academicians to be utilitarians and they think, get around. These problems and here's how they do it. There is a distinction today made between act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. And in almost every case that you meet someone today in a philosophy department who is a utilitarian, he's going to be a rule utilitarian. Everybody I talked to, everybody I talked about to this point has been an act utilitarian. Now, here's the difference. An act utilitarian justifies specific acts in terms of the utility of those acts. Should I pay my taxes? Should I tell the truth or should I keep my promises in this situation? The act utilitarian would say, look at the specific consequences of that specific act in those specific circumstances. And do the acts, do the act, do the action, rather that produces the most good over evil or the most pleasure over pain? Now, it was that whole system that ran into all of these objections that I'd been hurling at you for the last 2 hours. Rule Utilitarianism pretends that it's a different kind of theory and thus immune to this line of argument. It goes like this where we introduce considerations of of utility consequences. Good is when we contemplate the rules that we are going to follow in our lives. Utilitarianism is no longer useful in choosing among conflicting acts, but utilitarianism is useful in deciding which rules we should follow. And so someone says to you, One rule of the moral life is always tell the truth. Why? And the rule utilitarian would think like this telling the truth issues in consequences that produce more good over evil than any alternative action than any alternative rule. I'm sorry, but let me tell little. Why should I tell the truth? Why should I keep my promises? Why should I do this or that? And the rule utilitarian says because when you follow those rules, more people end up benefiting more good ends up resulting than otherwise. Here's what bothers me about rule utilitarianism. I think it is a refuge, a refuge for humanists and secularists who recognize they've got to deal with duty and obligations but don't want anything to do with Christian ethics. For the life of me friends. I cannot imagine a Christian philosopher with any brains in his head who's going to take refuge in rule utilitarianism. Because you see, if your worldview is properly Christian, you recognize that you've got plenty of ways of grounding human moral obligations without resorting to them to the machinations of of of the utilitarian here.