Peter, over at On Philosophy had a post that caught my attention: The Psychic Sadist. His post was about utilitarianism and his concerns with it. In his argument, he uses an example of a “psychic sadist who lives in a cave and never come in direct contact with the rest of the world.” Peter questions utilitarianism and disagrees with “Now in such a world utilitarianism tells us that we should attempt to minimize the happiness of the total world minus the sadist in order to increase the happiness of world including the sadist.”
My question or argument is that I do not think that one person would pull the ‘weight’ that the psychic sadist did in Peter’s example. I feel that he is giving to much ‘weight’ to the person in the cave. All people have the same right to happiness and pleasure and if we are to follow the utilitarian model, we need to seek the most pleasures/happinesses and avoid pain/unhappiness. I do not think that the effects of one person is enough to throw off the balance in a utilitarian model.
I do not necessarily agree with the utilitarian model, but for arguing purposes, in the utilitarian model, one person would not offset any type of balance and would only have minimal affects.
Peter also talks about how, “There are cases in which maximizing happiness may be detrimental to society, such as when we take away the happiness of many people in order to make one person happier.” I feel that this is missing the point to utilitarianism. I do not think that it would be considered utilitarianism if one person is valued over many. I think that it is the goal that many people are a little happier rather than one person very happy and others unhappy. I may be wrong in my statement, but I feel that utilitarianism is more focused on a general happiness for society, so focusing on one person’s happiness in the argument just does not make sense.
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. ~ Albert Camus