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Setting Health-Care PrioritiesWhat Ethical Theories Tell Us$
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Torbjörn Tännsjö

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190946883

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190946883.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 April 2021

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism

Chapter:
(p.8) (p.9) 2 Utilitarianism
Source:
Setting Health-Care Priorities
Author(s):

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190946883.003.0002

Utilitarianism is the idea that we ought to maximize the sum total of happiness. The notion of happiness is clarified. Happiness is taken in a subjective and empirical sense, as a kind of mood. Affirmative answers to the following questions are provided: What is happiness? Can it be measured? Can we compare it between persons? Can it function as a common currency when the different theories of distributive justice are compared? What about the heterogeneity objection? Can very different kinds of happiness be measured on a single scale? In the answers to these questions the idea of a least noticeable difference with respect to happiness plays a crucial role. It is conjectured that, if a person is in a certain mood (momentarily), then there exists an exact number of just noticeable changes for the worse or the better to the point where life is just worth living. Many different conditions can contribute to cause a person to be at the state where she is. A distinction of the utmost importance between physical and subjective time is introduced and a claim is made that what matters, from the point of view of moral theory, is subjective time.

Keywords:   hedonism, comparisons of happiness, the heterogeneity objection, subjective time

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