Utilitarianism - Application To Specific Issues - Human Rights

Human Rights

Utilitarians argue that justification of slavery, torture or mass murder would require unrealistically large benefits to outweigh the direct and extreme suffering to victims. Utilitarianism would also require the indirect impact of social acceptance of inhumane policies to be taken into consideration, and general anxiety and fear could increase for all if human rights are commonly ignored.

Act and rule utilitarians differ in how they treat human rights themselves. Under rule utilitarianism, a human right can easily be considered a moral rule. Act utilitarians, on the other hand, do not accept human rights as moral principles in and of themselves, but that does not mean that they reject them altogether: first, most act utilitarians, as explained above, would agree that acts such as enslavement and genocide always cause great unhappiness and very little happiness; second, human rights could be considered rules of thumb so that, although torture might be acceptable under some circumstances, as a rule it is immoral; and, finally, act utilitarians often support human rights in a legal sense because utilitarians support laws that cause more good than harm.

Part of a series on
Hedonism
Thinkers Jeremy Bentham · Julien Offray de La Mettrie · Aristippus of Cyrene · Epicurus · Theodorus the Atheist · Michel Onfray · Aristippus the Younger · Hermarchus · Lucretius · Pierre Gassendi · Metrodorus of Lampsacus · Zeno of Sidon · Yang Zhu
Schools of hedonism Cārvāka · Cyrenaics · Epicureanism
Christian hedonism · Utilitarianism · Abolitionism · Yangism
Key concepts Aponia · Ataraxia · Eudaimonia · Happiness · Hedone · Pain · Pleasure · Sensation · Suffering · Tetrapharmakos

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Famous quotes containing the words rights and/or human:

    It seemed like this was one big Prozac nation, one big mess of malaise. Perhaps the next time half a million people gather for a protest march on the White House green it will not be for abortion rights or gay liberation, but because we’re all so bummed out.
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