Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
I 161
Average utility/Rawls: the principle of average utility differs from that of contract theory.
Applied to the initial situation of a society to be built, in which the individuals are behind a veil of ignorance in relation to their later position, the principle of average utility requires that institutions be arranged in such a way that the absolute weighted sum of the expectations of the relevant representative individuals is maximized.
I 162
This sum increases as the number of people in a society grows.
Utilitarianism: here expectations are measured by the sum of actual and predictable satisfaction.
Theory of justice as fairness: on the other hand, this is a list of primary public goods (e. g. freedoms, infrastructure, etc.).
Classical theory of average utility: was represented by Mill and Wicksell. See Gunnar Myrdal, The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory London, 1953, pp.38f.; J.C. Smart, An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics, Cambridge, 1961, p. 18; J.C. Harsanyi "Cardinal Utilitry in Welfare Economics and the Theories of Risk Taking", Journal of Political Economy, vol. 61, 1953.).
Sum of Benefits/Population Growth/Rawls: the sum will not grow if we apply it to the fractions of society with certain positions, as long as the percentage of these fractions does not change.
Population growth: only when a population changes there is a difference between the classical theory and the theory of justice as fairness.
I 166
Average benefit/Rawls: the assumption of an initial situation of a society to be built, in which all are behind a veil of ignorance, argues for the introduction of the average principle and against the classical view. However, the average theory is not teleological, like the classical theory.
Average Principle: it is not that it requires the same kind of risk-taking from all participants.
I 171
Average Benefits/Rawls: It seems that the average principle must be tied to the principle of insufficient reason (see Risks/Rawls). We need something like the Laplace rule for decisions under uncertainty: the possibilities are determined in a natural way and everyone is given a probability. This does not assume general information about the company. (See W. Feller, Profitability and Profit, pp. 210-233, L.J. Savage, The Foundations of Statistics, New York, 1954, H. E. Kyburg, Probability and Inductive Logic, Riverside, 1970). See Probability/Rawls).
I 188
Average Benefit/Ideal Observer/Rawls: From the point of view of individuals in the initial situation, there is no reason to agree with the assessments of a compassionate ideal observer. Such an accordance would have all the disadvantages of the classical utility principle. However, if the participants are considered complete altruists, i.e. those who agree with the goals of the compassionate ideal observer,...
I 189
...then the classical principle would be adopted.
The greatest amount of bliss satisfies the observer as well as the altruist within the system. This gives us the surprising result that, while the principle of average utility corresponds to the ethics of the individual, the classical utilitarian doctrine is one of altruistic ethics!

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Rawl I
J. Rawls
A Theory of Justice: Original Edition Oxford 2005

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-06-18
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