ow should people treat each other?

The utilitarian view is that the goal of ethics is to maximize good, which I suppose means making the largest number of people as possible the safest, healthiest, and happiest possible. A utilitarian might conclude, in the words of Spock from Star Trek, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” When Spock says it the idea sounds so appealingly, well, logical.

We have the sense that people ought to be decent toward each other and usually not harm or kill each other. But what are the exact rules? And do we have to follow the rules always, or can we ignore them when they’re inconvenient or stand in the way of things we want?

The obvious answer to the last question seems to be that of course you cannot ignore the rules when you wish just because they’re inconvenient, but why not? What compels you to behave morally when you’d rather not?

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 Posted by on February 23, 2012
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