Utilitarianism promotes “the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people”, which pairs nicely with democracy, “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. However it’s easy to imagine instances where a course of action would provide a net benefit to society but be morally unjust. Would you risk killing one person to avoid inconveniencing 500? That’s a decision airline companies make when they decide whether to ban peanuts on a plane. What if it isn’t an allergic reaction, but a psychological one? Airlines certainly offer Halal, Vegetarian and Kosher options. Most people don’t think about the ingredients of their meal, but those that do must be catered for.
The average passenger doesn’t notice the cost of this added complexity In fact, they’re very likely eating halal food and drinking kosher drinks without knowing. It costs manufacturers more to produce and sell two separate products, so anything that can be made compliant will be. Only 2% of the U.S. population is Jewish, yet 41% of packaged food is certified kosher. Taleb observes that the needs of minorities aren’t overruled for the greater good, but instead the majority are often forced to accommodate. The apathy of the majority allows a motivated minority to hijack the decision-making process. To be effectively intolerant, a meme must be believed rather than understood. We only confer protected status on ideas that are costly to their host and illogical to most. We have less tolerance for intolerance when it’s viewed as a choice, and not an unshakeable part of identity.
Calculating Consequences:The Utilitarian Approach to Ethics
Less than 2% of the US population is Jewish. So why is 41% of the country’s packaged food kosher?
Presentation Military Memetics Tutorial 13 Dec 11.pdf
The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority
You Might Be Eating Halal Meat And Not Even Know It