Holden Karnofsky on utility legions

Utilitarianism allows utility monsters” and utility legions.” A large enough benefit to a single person (utility monster), or a benefit of any size to a sufficiently large set of persons (utility legion), can outweigh all other ethical considerations. Utility monsters seem (as far as I can tell) to be a mostly theoretical source of difficulty, but I think the idea of a utility legion” - a large set of persons such that the opportunity to benefit them outweighs all other moral considerations - is the root cause of most of what’s controversial and interesting about utilitarianism today, at least in the context of effective altruism.


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