Peter Singer and Preference Utilitarianism

Singer says that actually pleasure, whether higher or lower, is not the most important things, the interests of the individual are. Even though he believes that all humans do not possess equal worth, he says that everyone’s interests are equal. Essentially when make a moral decision we need to way out what action will result in the most interests being satisfied.

Three examples

Killing

Murder would be wrong because the person’s interest of being alive is not be met and is being overrun by the murderer’s interests . However, on the same basis voluntary euthanasia is moral because it satisfy the interest of the individual requesting it – even if they are not thinking straight. 

Racism

He would say that racism is wrong because of two reasons (i) fails to acknowledge the interests of the individual and (ii) gives greater value to the racists interests.

Dam

In this book Practical Ethics, Singer gives the example of a hydro-electric dam that is going to be built. He explores some of the interests that would be met and other violated as a result of this e.g. create jobs, provides cost effective power, destroy natural beauty, endanger species. He said by looking at preference we protect minority groups. 

In terms of medical ethics he is in favor of persoonhood and the Quality of Life argument. He says the Sanctity of Life is old and should not be used. He gives five principles which make the Quality of Life argument which he believes should replace the old Sanctity of Life argument and that is:

  1. All humans do not possess equal worth
  2. Only bring children into this world if they are wanted
  3. Respect one’s wishes to live or die
  4. Humans are not a superior life form to animals
  5. We should take responsibility for out actions
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