Re: ETHICS: Utility First--> Fraud

Ian Goddard (
Sun, 17 May 1998 12:10:26 -0400

At 04:37 PM 5/16/98 -0400, Daniel Fabulich wrote:

>On Sat, 16 May 1998, Ian Goddard wrote:
>> If my principle is utility first and I have
>> a hypothesis about what nature is, then I do
>> research, gathering data about nature, add
>> it all up, and lo and behold the numbers
>> suggest my hypothesis is not true, I
>> have one of two options:
>> 1) conclude that my hypothesis is not true.
>> 2) alter the data to make my theory appear true.
>> Option 1 adheres to a "truth first me second"
>> principle, option two adheres to a "me first
>> truth maybe later," principle. A "me first"
>> principle is obviously useful to me, so a
>> "utility first, truth maybe" standard
>> will automatically promote fraud
>> and abolish a code of ethical
>> conduct that is the only
>> hope for science & humanity...
>First, if choosing 2 would hurt humanity, then utilitarianism demands that
>we choose 1, not 2. You're arguing against EGOISM, the philosophy that
>each agent should make choices in such a way as to maximize his-her OWN
>utility, as opposed to utilitarianism which argues for greatest utility
>for greatest number.

IAN: The issue I've raised does not exclude
any type of utility, such as egoic. The issue
raised addresses the idea that "useless truths"
(where "useless" is defined as not causing mon-
itary profits) should be rejected. The truth
that the planet Pluto exists may not be causing
monetary profits, does that mean all data about
Pluto should be erased from science books? I
say no. I say that truth is implicitly valu-
able to inquiry into the nature of things.

>Goddard, utilitarianism is a consequentialist philosophy, which means that
>it evaluates choices and actions based on their consequences, just as you
>do and have. It states that an action is right if and only if it results
>in the best possible consequences. It evaluates consequences based on the
>utility of all people, where utility is defind as their happiness,
>satisfaction, etc. One consequence is better than another if it results
>in greater happiness for a greater number. Thus, the right action results
>in the greatest utility for the greatest number.
>THIS is the philosophy you have so maligned, and so completely

IAN: No. Your defining "utility" "the greater good,"
I have not misunderstood that the greater good was
anything but the greater good. I've simply addressed
the issue in which "utility" could be defined by some
other standard, such as egoic. In fact, there can be
no other standard than egoic, because even if you do
things for others, you do them because you want to;
your measure of the "greater good" is YOUR measure,
for some the "greater good" is mass sterilization.

I really don't care to get into a discussion of uti-
litarianism, I just think that truths should not be
eliminated because they may not cause profits now.

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