Satisficing Utilitarianism as a Variation on Utilitarian Moral Theory

Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park (1993)

Abstract
Satisficing is a term that was coined by Herbert Simon in the field of economics meaning 'that which is good enough.' In recent years Michael Slote and others have addressed the rationality and the morality of satisficing from a philosophical perspective. My work in this thesis is an attempt to further this discussion. I argue that there is a form of satisficing act consequentialism that is consistent with Jeremy Bentham's notion of utilitarianism. In making the case for the rationality and the morality satisficing utilitarianism by theoretical argumentation and by case analysis I also argue for a symmetrical relationship between satisficing with respect to pain and satisficing with respect to pleasure. Issues concerning the line drawing problem and the calculation problem are addressed as well as questions concerning satisficing in relation to scalar moral theories, optimizing moral theories, and maximizing moral theories. It soon becomes apparent that satisficing utilitarianism is not as incompatible with common sense moral theory as its classical utilitarian counterparts appear to be. I conclude that satisficing act utilitarianism is a viable alternative to the current theories popular in contemporary moral philosophy
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