Tag Archives: Utility

Liberty and Utility

Now for something a bit lighter than what has been posted over the last few weeks.  An initial look at liberty, freedom and other synonymous terms and an alternative.

This is a very generalised post written in late 2005.

Liberty is for Libertarians and those classed as Classical Liberals. Personally I can’t separate the distinction between Libertarians and Classical Liberals.

To most Liberty is about freedom.  So it is to Libertarians.

Liberty is about the freedom of choice.

Libertarians, the followers of the ideal of Liberty place only one restriction on people: that is that you do not force others to do what you want and prevent them from living by their own choices.

The major dilemma with Libertarians is that given the choice, they do not have to have concern for the social well-being of the rest of society.

Utility is the effective happiness and security of a group. In short, Utility is concerned with society’s welfare.

The major dilemma with utility is that what maximises utility under one set of circumstances may not under another. Utility is very context specific or judged on a case-by-case basis.

Utilitarians are willing to restrict the liberty of some to interfere with their choices, if doing so will promote greater benefit and general welfare of society than not doing so. This is something Libertarians cannot tolerate. As long as you are not interfering with other people’s choices, then no person, group, or government should disturb you in living the life you choose; not even if doing so would maximize happiness and security for the majority of society.

This is only the very basics of Libertarianism and Utilitarianism.

Liberty promotes choices. Utility promotes happiness. Which one do you prefer?