Another problem with utilitarianism

I used to be a utilitarian. I’m alright now.

One of the problems with utilitarian arguments when it comes to considering environmental interests is a) non-sentient beings are seen to have no interests; b) sentient beings are assessed as having interests only in relation to how their sentience measures up to human sentience and c) cost-benefit analyses are used to assess the impact of projects, forgetting that the cost-benefit analysis inevitably favours the party which can pay the costs of a favourable presentation. That party will normally be the sponsor of the project. Consider the following Irish current controversies: The Golf Course at the Giant’s Causeway (billionaire sponsor; case won by sponsor); The Shell Corrib controversy (case ongoing but eventual appeal to planning board won by Shell, multibillionaire multinational, project sponsor); Coillte, the Irish Forestry department proposed sale (likely bidders – Chinese speculators, profit-minded entities; resistance by conservationists, environmental protection groups, some tourism groups: likely outcome?) and the giant fishfarm proposal for the Connemara coast…

From the point of view of ecological or environmental advocacy, utilitarianism, like capitalism, isn’t working…


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