Justice – Handout 1
Birmingham School of Law
Friday: 6:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.
FNB Classroom #___ (tba)
Course Website: www.JusticeCourse.com
V. Michelle Obradovic, Esq.
Wise Resolution, LLC
2100A SouthBridge Pkwy., Ste. 650
Birmingham, AL 35209
205-602-5014 cell phone
Introduction and Utilitarianism
1) The Queen vs. Dudley and Stephens:
a) Do you think that Dudley and Stephens should have been found guilty of murder?
i) If so, why? If not, why not?
b) What sort of arguments can be put forward about the case:
i) in terms of the morally relevant consequences of Dudley and Stephens’s actions? and
ii) in terms of categorical prohibitions on certain acts, or in terms of categorical rights
c) Can the case be argued both ways using both kinds of arguments?
d) What implications do the arguments which we might use in discussing Dudley and
Stephens have for Prof. Sandel’s cases of:
i) the runaway trolley car, or
ii) the ‘over-enthusiastic’ transplant surgeon?
2) Jeremy Bentham’s version of Utilitarianism & ‘the General Utilitarian Principle:
a) Is mankind really "under the governance of two sovereign masters, pleasure and pain"?
And is Bentham right is saying that "it is for them alone to point ought what we ought to
do, as well as to determine what we shall do"? (Ch. I. § I).
i) Could it really be true that the only good thing was pleasure, and the only bad thing
ii) Does Bentham use ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’ in a misleading way?
b) Bentham’s definition of utilitarianism: an act is right insofar as "its tendency to augment
the happiness of the community is greater than its tendency to diminish it" (Ch. I, §VI).
As you can see, Bentham’s theory about what is right comes very naturally from his
theory of what is valuable.
c) Is "the interest of the community really just the sum of the interests of the several
members who compose it"? Maybe a community could have interests that were not just