What is Pragmatism, What is Utilitarianism?June 28, 2021
Pragmatism; It is a philosophical movement founded on the basis of thinking about practical consequences for reality and action. Pragmatism was introduced as a philosophical system by the American philosopher William James. In addition, the movement that evaluates the truth and reality unilaterally, only with the results of the actions, and looks at them only in terms of the “benefit” it provides is called pragmatism in philosophy.
According to pragmatism, reality and truth are not independent of people’s point of view, opinions, and therefore actions. Therefore, reality, righteousness, and the results of human actions are judged by their success and benefits.
Pragmatism has become widespread especially in the USA and England and has become the life philosophy of the society. It has profoundly affected education and the economy. The prominent representatives of this view; William James is John Dewey.
At the same time, pragmatism, which is a kind of hedonistic moral understanding, evaluates according to the benefit that emerges as a result of the behavior. The most valuable action is the one that brings the highest good and benefit.
According to them, if the result of the action is beneficial, the action is moral. There is no universal moral law in pragmatism, since an action cannot benefit all at once, that is, in the interests of all.
PRAGMATISM AS THE THEORY OF GOODNESS AND TRUTH
In philosophy, utilitarianism is both the theory of the good and the theory of the right. Utilitarianism as a theory of the good is welfarist. The good is the one that brings the most utility, where utility is defined in terms of pleasure, satisfaction, or a list of objective values. As a theory of truth, utilitarianism is consequentialist.
Right action is based on the argument that something is true to the extent that it is practicable. If a piece of information is useful in daily life, that information is correct. If it doesn’t, it’s wrong. It would not be wrong to characterize this philosophical movement, which is closely related to empiricism, as the opposite of theoretical thought.
Pragmatism is the theory of both the good and the truth.
THE HISTORICAL ADVENTURE OF PRAGMATISM
Utilitarianism was first proposed in 18th century England by Jeremy Bentham and others. But the history of pragmatism can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophers such as Epicurus.
When it was first introduced, the good was defined as the thing that brings the most happiness to the most people. Later, however, Bentham discarded the first part as it contained two different and potentially contradictory concepts and simply said “the greatest happiness principle”.
Both Bentham’s and Epicurean formulations can be considered different types of hedonistic causation because they measured the accuracy of actions by the happiness they caused and defined happiness by pleasure. But Bentham’s formulation was an impersonal hedonism. Whereas Epicurus recommended doing what makes one happiest, Bentham saw fit to do what would make everyone happiest.
CRITICS OF PRAGMATISM
John Stuart Mill wrote a famous (and short) book called Utilitarianism. Although Mill was a utilitarian, he argued that not all pleasures are of equal value. “It’s better to be an unhappy Socrates than a happy pig.” The word expresses this view.
Critics of utilitarianism have said that this view has several problems. One of them is the difficulty of comparing the benefits of different people.
Many early utilitarians believed that happiness could be measured and compared numerically by felisific calculus, but in practice this was never done.
It has been argued that it is not possible to compare the happiness of different people, not only in practice but also in principle. Proponents of utilitarianism have responded by saying that this problem is one that can be faced by anyone who has to decide between two bad options.
They said that if you can’t say that a billion people die and one person die is equally bad, you can’t use this problem to reject utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism has also been criticized for contradicting common sense.
For example, when one has to choose between saving the life of one’s own child or the lives of two strangers, he will choose to save his own child. But utilitarians will favor the opposite, as saving two strangers will result in greater potential happiness in the future.
John Stuart Mill is the founder of Utilitarism.
The argument of this trend that something is true to the extent that it can be applied has been criticized as it is accepted even if something is successful even though it lacks substance without allowing any theoretical mechanism to be discussed.
For example, when a question with different options is answered randomly but correctly by someone who has no knowledge, that thing has now become absolute according to utilitarianism. Whether this person is knowledgeable, educated or intelligent is not important. Conversely, when highly educated and talented people cannot reach good status in society, their