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Selfishness - Omnia mutantur, nihil interit. — LiveJournal
October 11th, 2004
05:54 pm
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Date:October 12th, 2004 06:00 am (UTC)

Re: Showin' off my philosophy chops

No, that's true, but orthogonal to what I was trying to say, which is more like the distinction between act-utilitarianism and rule-utilitarianism. Now, strictly speaking I think that you can either treat act-utilitarianism as a special case of rule-utilitarianism (with the only rule being “Do what produces the most benefit”) or rule-utilitarianism as a special case of act-utilitarianism (in which one of the actions is the formation of a rule). However, in pragmatic terms, it makes a difference which schema one uses to describe his values.

The specific desire to have a relationship in which one doesn't keep a ledger of who owes whom interacts with this in an interesting way—it actively interferes with the implementation of what most would think of as act-utilitarianism. (How can one assess whether a particular act benefits one if one isn't keeping score?)

(Also, as is probably obvious, I'm talking about egocentric utilitarianism here. Altruistic utilitarianism is more common in the literature, but I don't find it very interesting. The calculi are pretty much the same other than the whole “intersubjective incomparability of values” issue with altruistic utilitarianism.)
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