Department of Philosophy
Department Seminar

Torbjörn Tännsjö: Utilitarianism or Prioritarianism

The third Department Seminar this Spring will be given by Torbjörn Tännsjö.

Picture of Torbjörn Tännsjö
Torbjörn Tännsjö

Main content


A simple hedonistic theory allowing for interpersonal comparisons of happiness is developed. The hedonistic theory is used to compare utilitarianism, urging us to maximize the sum total of happiness, with prioritarianism, urging us to maximize a sum total of weighed happiness. It is argued with reference to a few thought experiments that utilitarianism is, intuitively speaking, more plausible than prioritarianism. The problem with prioritarianism surfaces when prudence and morality come apart.