Kate Wente

February 22 - Lecture Notes - Group 2 - Please feel free to add or critique if I miss something! I was kind of confused as to how he numbered the 3 parts of punishment. I have all the notes he gave us today in class. just not sure how they break down into numbers 1-3, mostly just number 2 and 3.

Jeremy Bentham: "The Rationale of Punishment"
-Bentham was responsible for today's modern prison system.


3 Parts of Punishment:

1. Physical evil - it's going to hurt you.
(ex) confinement in prison creates physical harm because we lose our personal freedoms and it takes away pleasures.
(ex) fines —> they take away your money and therefore you can't buy important necessities in life.
*But is it a deserved punishment?*

2. By taking away the desire of offending.
-Something is happening to you that you don't want, but it happens because you have done something or have been thought to have done something.

3. By making one afraid of offending - Intentional punishment.

*What is the point of punishment?*
- To deter people from committing crimes.

- Rehabilitation
*Prisons are supposed to be about bettering society
*restitution —> violent crimes cannot be undone but restitution is still part of punishment.
*should give prisoners useful skills in prison

Bentham: - Utility: Nature places governance with pain and pleasure.

Pain —> Unpleasant, we know to avoid it, consciously and unconsciously.
(ex) Moving around obstacles in a room, traumatic events and even racing mario kart. With chronic pain, sometimes the pain switch is left on though.

Pleasure —> Something we like to do because it's pleasure. Activation system (brain has sensation and movement that transmits feelings of pleasure vs. pain.)
"Let's do it again and again" —> until it becomes a reward in itself.

*We use pain/pleasure to orient ourselves*
*As a general principle, that is how we behave*

-Should we do things (pleasure) that we want to do all the time?
However, pain is not always considered a punishment and is beneficial sometimes and can teach us lessons.
(ex) Staying up all night and studying for a test and getting the good grade even though you're tired.
(ex) Long term benefits of excruciating exercise.

Sex? Good or Bad?
-Good when done right and it feels good to most, However:
-Bad according to some religions (pre-marital sex)
-Bad - diseasea and pregnancy
-Emotional issues
-Some religions view sex as wrong if people are having it just to have fun. Their point is to perpetuate the human race. If the focus on pleasure is too much, than more important problems can arise. A lot of religions are against many pleasures for this reason.

-Basically—> If we put too much emphasis on pleasure/pain, it hinders us from what is really important in life.

-Principle of Utility -
Principle of Asceticism (deontology - tradition Judeo Christian Ethics) —> "Don't focus on this work, but on another world." (long term pleasure)
(ex) Monks wore itchy hot hair sweaters in order to remove certain temptations of this world. The sweaters inflict pain/discomfort which in turn brings them closer to God.

Hedonism - Someone who seeks out pleasure (Epicunis).
-The point of life is pleasure. Bentham was a Hedonist.

"Having a "life" throughout your whole life will give you the most pleasure, rather than pain in your life."
(ex) nice jog on a warm day vs. intense sprints on a early cold morning.

People have these things called "Guilty pleasures" especially Americans.
(ex)Chocolate and bad foods —> enjoy it and myself while alive, who cares if its bad for me in the long run. I like it now.

In response to this, Bentham said let's be smart about this and broke down the value of it.

Intensity—> How good does it feel? Worth it?
Chocolate = 5 on a scale. Brocoli = 1
How much good will it give me though?

Certainty—> Buying a lottery ticket vs. candy
The candy will benefit me by tasting good right now. The lottery will benefit me right now if i scratch it off and win big!
However, the chances of winning the lottery are not gauranteed pleasure like the candy bar.

Duration—> The Super Size Me movie. After the guy ate McDonalds each time, he felt good on account of all the sugars and good taste, etc. Later though, he'd crash and get sick. Pleasure followed by pain.

Cost—> The cost of eating brocoli is better than McDonalds in the long run. Bonging beers also sounds like a good idea at first too, until you get a hangover.

*The point is not instant pleasure but what is the cost and duration*
-The best odds for long term pleasure is to figure out the most responsible method.

Hedonic Calculus: Do I go out or stay in and study? (use a number scale)
Studying = causes pain, but has long term benefits. (15)
Going out = pleasure at first, but short term benefits and pain later. (8)
15 vs. 8

*How do we compare good material objects/benefits to long term (ex, schooling) benefits?*
Bentham: "Maybe we don't know the #'s but we have a general idea of how things rank."
(ex) choosing a steak vs. an ipod

Hedonist vs. Utilitarianism

(Hedonist) —We all follow principles of utility and we all follow things of pleasure for ourselves.
(Utilitarianism) — Same type of thing except we follow things of pleasure for society as a whole.

Bentham: Let's set up laws that set up ways to help people have long term benefits that are good for themselves and good for society. Doesn't matter if it's good for them or not sometimes though, as long as it's good for society. Same type of idea for the education system and taxes.

Brittany Kaminsky: Lecture notes for Feb 24th.

*Bentham believes in the principle of utility
-you should try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain
*The opposite of the principle of utility is the principle of asceticism
-you should deny yourself of bodily pleasures and experience pain to get closer to god
*Utilitarianism is a consequentalist theory-it focuses on outcomes of an action rather than intentions
*Bentham is an act utilitarian
*Utilitarians think that there is no difference between killing and letting someone die.

Examples of this mentality are shown in different variations of the trolley problem.

1)You are sitting on a switch box for a trolley car. The trolley is on the track and is headed toward a car that is stuck on the tracks with 5 people inside. On the other track is a woman tied down to the tracks. Do you switch the tracks and kill the one woman or do nothing and let 5 people die?
-3/4 of people would switch the track and kill the one woman

2)There is a trolley carrying 5 people on the track and up ahead there is a problem in the track and it is going to derail. On the bridge there is a fat man that you could push into the trolley to save the 5 people, but killing the fat man. Do you push the fat man over the bridge and save 5 people or do you do nothing and let the trolley derail.. killing 5 people?
-Utilitarians would push the fat man because there is more people saved.

another example was created by Bernard Williams:
3)Jim goes to a village and sees 20 people tied up about to get shot. The commander is excited to see an American and says that if Jim shoots one of the people, than the other 19 can go free, or all 20 people will be shot.
-this example isnt a no-brainer. you have to take into account integrity-Jim will have to become a murder
-Williams believes that there is a difference between killing someone and letting them die.

*Utilitarians believe that if you do a certain action which causes a certain outcome, you are partially responsible for that outcome
-like if you save adolf hitler from drowning, you are partially responsible for the murder of millions of people

*Rule utilitarians think that people make snap judgements and there is not enough time to do the hedonic calculus that Bentham talks about
*They believe that you have rules of thumbs (aka coristics) that help simplify decisions and allow you to make snap judgements more easily

*Moral luck-you can do something that you think is the right thing, but turns out to be the wrong thing
-Utilitarians and Virtue ethicists believe in moral luck

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