a1 University of Edinburgh
Utilitarian ethics and metaphysical idealism, especially of a Bradleyan sort, are not usually thought of as natural allies. Yet when one considers that it is a crucial part of utilitarian doctrine that the only genuine value is experienced value and almost the definition of idealism that for it the only genuine reality is experienced reality one should surely suspect that the two views have a certain affinity. The essential impulse behind utilitarianism is the sense that the only criterion of something really being intrinsically good is that it feels good. To the ordinary man to say that something feels good is much the same as saying that it is a pleasure, so that for him it is a small step from identifying good with what feels good to identifying it with pleasure. It suggests itself, then, that the utilitarian is essentially one who thinks that, so far as the good goes, esse ispercipi. In that case the utilitarian is an idealist about value. It does not follow that he should be an idealist about things in general, but it does suggest the converse, that the idealist about things in general might be expected to be a utilitarian in his ethics.