1. Shaw and Barry distinguish two different forms of utilitarianism. What are these two forms. Briefly describe each and use examples. Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism are the two different forms of utilitarianism that Shaw and Barry distinguish. Utilitarianism refers to the greatest happiness principle for the most amounts of people. Act utilitarianism “states that we must ask ourselves what the consequences of a particular act in a particular situation will be for all those affected. If its consequences bring more net good than those of any alternative course of action, then this action is the right one and the one we should perform” (Shaw and Barry, pg.60).
I look at this as to mean when choosing between two alternative acts in a situation then the right act is the one that brings the best result or the most happiness, basically the consequences of a single act. Rule utilitarianism “maintains that the utilitarian standard should be applied not to individual actions but to moral codes as a whole. The principles that make up that code would then be the basis for distinguishing right actions from wrong actions” (Shaw and Barry, pg.77). I look at this to me at measuring the consequences of the act repeated over and over again as if it was a rule whenever there are similar situations. 2. What do economists mean by the “declining marginal utility of money”?
Declining marginal utility of money stated by Shaw and Barry as “simply means that successive additions to one’s income produce, on average, less happiness or welfare that did earlier additions” (Shaw and Barry, pg.112). I look at this as with every additional dollar or good, the value and happiness declines, the additional dollar or good loses its initial feeling or worth compared to the previous additions. A good example would be someone would really enjoy a piece of chocolate cake, and if offered a second piece they may agree that they would still enjoy it, but not as much as the first piece, and finally given a third piece of chocolate cake, they would be so full from the first two pieces then they wouldn’t be as happy since eating the first piece of chocolate cake.
So for every extra piece of chocolate cake there would be less happiness from the previous piece. 3. Robert Nozick presents his entitlement theory as a function of three basic principles. What are these three basic principles? Nozick’s entitlement theory is a theory of justice and how society regulates the distribution of goods, money and property. “All that matters for Noziak is how people came to have what they have, not the pattern or results of the distribution of goods.” (Shaw and Barry, pg.115) His entitlement theory comprises of three main principles which were:
1. A principle of justice in acquisition – This principle deals with the initial acquisition of holdings. It is an account of how people first come to own common property, what types of things can be held, and so forth. 2. A principle of justice in transfer – This principle explains how one person can acquire holdings from another, including voluntary exchange and gifts. 3. A principle of rectification of injustice – how to deal with holdings that are unjustly acquired or transferred, whether and how much victims can be compensated, how to deal with long past transgressions or injustices done by a government, and so on. What is principle of justice in acquisition?
Our book gives us an analogy concerning basketball player, Wilt Chamberlain that was used by Nozick. The idea behind this is that Wilt Chamberlain was a very talent basketball player and people were willing to pay a certain amount of money to see him play. In Wilt Chamberlain’s contact it stated that he would get X amount for each ticket purchased, due to his talent of playing basketball. Over the course of the year he is entitled to a portion of the tickets sold. Wilt Chamberlain become very wealthy as a result of the amount of tickets sold and his contact with the team he played for since his contact stated he get X amount for each ticket purchased.
He has every right to become wealthy and acquire money as a result of the free choice of people voluntarily purchasing the basketball tickets to see him play. This is an example of how the money exchanged was rightfully acquired. What is principle of justice in transfer? A good example of justice of transfer would be if a landowner justly owns twenty acres of property and he freely sells ten acres to his neighbor for a specific amount of money. This would be justice of transfer since the landlord is willing to sell the property and his neighbor is willing to purchase and they both agree on the terms. The landowner would now have ten less acres of property but he would be X amount wealthier and his neighbor will now have ten additional acres and X amount less. Both parties agreed on the terms and neither leave worse off than prior to the transaction.
What is principle of rectification of injustice? Basically how to restore something to its rightful owner, in case of injustice in either acquisition or transfer. A good example we could use is back giving an example of a football quarterback. The quarterback contact stated that he would get X amount for each ticket purchased. What happens if he is injured at the beginning of the season and doesn’t play any games except for the first three games? Is he still entitlement to the X amount per ticket or just a portion of the total?
The contact doesn’t state anything about if he was injured and didn’t play. So should the quarterback be entitlement to the extra money. It may feel injustice since he didn’t play the majority of the games, but since his contact stated that he gets X amount per ticket then he is entitlement to the entire amount. The team doesn’t feel that he should get the entire amount. The team only gives him a portion of the money.
The quarterback has the right to rectify and claim the entire amount since his contact doesn’t have a specific clause regarding being injured. He would have legal action to go after the team to pay him the entire amount. 4. Two main features of John Rawls’s theory of distributive justice are particularly important. What are these two features? Describe them. Rawl’s theory of distributive justice have two main features that are described in the textbook (Shaw and Barry, pg.122): 1. Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all. I see this feature as saying each individual should have the equal rights or opportunities, basically not to restrict or deny the freedom of each person involved.
2. Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions. First, they are to be attached to positions and offices open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second, they are to be to the greatest expected benefit of the least advantaged members of society. I see this feature as saying that there is social and economic inequalities and they may not be wrong or bad. These inequalities shouldn’t benefit the least well off. It doesn’t matter where a person was born into the social ladder. 5. What is the MAXIMIN rule for making decisions?
According to our textbook the MAXIMIN rule states “you should select the alternative under which the worst that could happen to you is better than
the worst that could happen to you under any other alternative-that is, you should try to maximize the minimum that you will receive.” (Shaw and Barry, pg.122). Basically it is stating that the rule is if there are more than one choice, the best decision rule is to consider the one with the least worst consequence for the best possible choice. 6. What is the role of the “veil of ignorance” in Rawls’ theory of distributive justice? According to our textbook the role of the veil of ignorance in Rawl’s theory “eliminates bias and makes the original position a fair way of choosing principles.”
(Shaw and Barry, pg.121). I see at the method for determining the morality of an issue no matter what social role one may play, it is only how one truly considers the morality of a certain position. 7. According to Shaw and Barry, deciding what sort of economic arrangements would best promote human happiness requires the utilitarian to consider many things. What are the five considerations mentioned by Shaw and Barry? The five considerations mentioned in our textbook (Shaw and Barry, pg.111): 1. The type of economic ownership (private, public, mixed).
2. The way of organizing production and distribution in general (pure laissez faire, markets with government planning and regulation, fully centralized planning). 3. The type of authority arrangements within the units of production (worker control versus managerial prerogative. 4. The range and character of material incentives.
5. The nature and extent of social security and welfare provisions.
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