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Utilitarianism Reflection

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SOCI3024 - 2nd Memo

Passions and rationality represent two ends of the spectrum of human behavior in Hirschmann’s view, while interests lie in the middle by adding the element of rational calculation into human aspirations. However, one question brought up in class discussion worths further consideration: why must rationality be the ultimate goal? why can’t it just be a means to satisfy the aspirations?
Weber has answered this question in his categorization of social actions. When rationality is used as “means” to achieve calculated ends, it falls into the category of instrumentally-rational belief, which is the universal motive of self-interest. Whereas when rationality is believed to be a correct end in the action itself, it becomes a value-rational belief. However, notice that the latter type of action is considered rational regardless of its prospects of success, that is, neither the consequence nor the utility is taken into account in the case of value-rational belief, which, contradicts with the principles of utilitarianism. Precisely under utilitarianism, rationality is considered premise that every individual would apply it spontaneously.
Freud doesn’t seem to distinguish between the two orientations of rationality specifically.  On the one hand, he acknowledged that “an individual can mature and acquire a permanent overlay of rationality”. On the other hand, such rationality merely serves “the object of his desires”. But overall, he contends that irrationality cannot be eliminated, and that libidinous desire is the ultimate motive and objective, implying the assistant role rationality played in individual development.



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