Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

bgaesop comments on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject - Less Wrong

167 Post author: lukeprog 16 January 2011 08:30AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (327)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: bgaesop 17 January 2011 08:10:21PM 2 points [-]

I would like to request a recommendation for a text that introduces one to Utilitarianism.

Comment author: lukeprog 17 January 2011 08:18:01PM *  4 points [-]

I don't read much on normative ethics, but Smart & Williams' Utilitarianism: For and Against has some good back-and-forth on the major issues, at least up to 1973. The other advantage of this book is that it's really short.

But there are probably better books on the subject I'm just not aware of.

Comment author: bgaesop 17 January 2011 11:25:45PM 0 points [-]

I have put it on hold at my school's library. Thanks! I'll try to post a review once I read it, if I can find an appropriate space and time.

Comment author: michaba03m 18 January 2011 11:23:51PM 0 points [-]

I have been studying utilitarianism in particular in quite some depth as part of my university degree (PPE). And yes I would DEFINITELY recommend that book, it is excellent. Also, of couse, Mill's book itself is very important to read as it had such a significant effect on ethics and politics, though I wouldn't say that he is necessarily the best representative of what utilitarians generally believe (the devil's in the details).

Another very simple, straightforward & lucid book is Roger Crisp's 'Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Mill on Utilitarianism', definitely recommended. Or anything by Crisp, on that matter.

If you're still hungry for more, still on level one/two is 'Mill's Utilitarianism: Critical Essays' by Lyons.


Comment author: YoungFolks 12 February 2011 03:33:52AM 0 points [-]

I was recently introduced to utilitarianism, more precisely, Mill's Utilitarianism, because I was assigned to do a speech on it for a class. I found the work fascinating and frustrating, and I immediately sought my professor and the library for help in better understanding Mill's views. I found the book by Lyons and I've been engrossed by it. The different critical essays on different parts of utilitarianism have made it so much more clear to me. I like how there are essays with different takes on utilitarianism, some that argue for/against rule-utilitarianism, or for/against act-utilitarianism, and some that just explain it in more depth without choosing a side. This book and Mill's own Utilitarianism are the only books I've read so far, but both are excellent.

Can someone recommend good books on Bentham's Utilitarianism?