more from Martha Nussbaum

Single Idea 21011

[catalogued under 24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 4. Social Utilitarianism]

Full Idea

When society puts things out of reach for people, they typically learn not to want those things. ..By defining the social goal in terms of satisfaction of actual preferences, utilitarian approaches often reinforce the status quo, which may be very unjust.

Gist of Idea

We shouldn't focus on actual preferences, which may be distorted by injustices


Martha Nussbaum (Creating Capabilities [2011], 3)

Book Reference

Nussbaum,Martha C.: 'Creating Capabilities' [Belknap Harvard 2013], p.54

A Reaction

Maximising happiness is potentially very paternalistic, whereas preference satisfaction is not, which aligns utilitarianism better with liberalism. It is notorious that slaves can be contented with their slavery, and battered wives can remain loyal.