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May 16, 2011



as a utilitarian, i agree wholeheartedly with this post (and also appreciate the link to the new parfit book, which i had not heard about). it seems to me like wilkinson is denying the possibility of a rule utilitarianism as opposed to act utilitarianism. i personally don't think that one can, in good faith, be an act utilitarian – i agree "that attempting to institute a dictatorship of utilitarian technocrats who issue laws based on the hedonic calculus will actually produce less happiness than our current system of government does." we don't follow rules (a system of laws, a democratic governance regime) for themselves, we follow them for utilitarian reasons (namely that they tend to lead to happier outcomes). people don't get all bent out of shape when j.s. mill talks about the reasons why free speech is good; this is analogous.

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