"Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism"

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"Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism"

Postby rehoot on 2012-04-17T08:07:00

Here is a link to an open access journal article by Roger Chao that adds a twist to negative utilitarianism. One of his points was to resolve why utilitarians should not be inclined to painlessly kill a hermit that is unknown to the world. It might be interesting for those who like negative utilitarianism. The idea is nothing fancy--include consideration of people's preferences in addition to avoiding experiential harm.

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Re: "Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism"

Postby DanielLC on 2012-04-17T16:18:00

One of his points was to resolve why utilitarians should not be inclined to painlessly kill a hermit that is unknown to the world.

That looks like a sign that it isn't his true rejection. It sounds like he already believed that it's bad to painlessly kill a hermit, and was just looking for a reason to rationalize it.
Consequentialism: The belief that doing the right thing makes the world a better place.

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Re: "Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism"

Postby Brian Tomasik on 2012-04-18T06:23:00

Thanks for sharing, rehoot.

I like DanielLC's response, because I think the point about "your true rejection" is too often overlooked. Chao's intuition didn't come to the conclusion that it's wrong to euthanize the hermit through the complicated reasoning of NAPU (most likely). His intuition feels that way for some other reason, and now he's (over?)fitting his theory to force it to agree.[*]

That said, I do have some sympathy for the approach of harmonizing theories with intuition in certain cases because humans have a thousand random, conflicting intuitions and impulses, and there really is no unified whole. The best we can do is force them into some sort of reflective equilibrium, discarding some intuitions and tweaking others.


[*] Or maybe NAPU is really just a formalization of his basic intuition for why the euthanasia is wrong. I'd be willing to trust Chao if he made that claim.
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Re: "Negative Average Preference Utilitarianism"

Postby Humphrey Schneider on 2013-01-17T12:12:00

I agree that Roger Chao only aims to rationalize his intuitions that euthanasia is wrong and that antinatalism is legitimate. I don't understand why we should care about the average frustration - aversion and not about frustration -aversion or suffering on an absolute level.

At least this article has opened my eyes, that most people are Average Utilitarians in some kind.

Considering human suffering people might say that we have made a huge progress in e.g. fighting hunger since stone age.

But Wikipedia talks about 925 million undernourished people in the world in 2010.
Therefore the world population in 10,000 BC is estimated to be 1,000,000 to 10,000,000.
Even if all stone-agers were malnourished the hunger problem wouldn't have the dimensions it has today simply because they were less humans. An adherent of NAPU would do good to add over 900 Million hungry people and a few billion better nourished ones to reduce average frustration and to make the world a better place.

Other people might say that the would has been better some decades ago concerning human happiness (e.g. "life was easier" etc.). If they say so they are average utilitarians as well because they don't consider that today there are more human beings and therefore perhaps also more human happiness. A classical Utilitarian would try to increase the world population to maximize happiness.
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