Raging Right Wing Republican

For those of us who are politically informed, and therefore Republican.

Monday, June 16, 2008

D. C. Stove (1927-1994) on Utilitarianism

That our primary obligation is to increase human happiness, or decrease misery, is an idea only of the last ten minutes, historically-speaking. The human race in general has always supposed that its primary moral obligation lies elsewhere: in being holy, or in being virtuous, or in practising some specific virtue, (loyalty, or courage, for example). An obligation to increase the general happiness has occupied little if any place in most moral systems, whether of the learned or of the ignorant. But for the contemporaries of whom I am speaking, anything morally more important than human happiness is simply inconceivable. You can easily tell that this is so, by asking any of them to mention an example of something which they regard as extremely morally bad. You will find that what they give, in every case, is an example which turns essentially on pain.

(D. C. Stove, "Why You Should Be a Conservative," Proceedings of the Russellian Society 13 [1988]: 1-13, at 9 [italics in original])

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