Getting On

I was watching the season premier of “Getting On”, an excellent tragicomedy on HBO about dying old ladies in a hospital. It featured a professor explaining medical ethics: he said he was about to discuss “utilitarianism versus consequentialism”. It’s nice to see philosophical ethics being mentioned, but is it really necessary to make an elementary error in doing so? Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism.

6 responses to “Getting On”

  1. Gordon says:

    Maybe that’s what he was about to say.

  2. Gordon says:

    I didn’t get to see that specific scene. Did he actually go on to explain, in an errant way, the difference between utilitarianism and consequentialism? But you’re right. Great show.

    • Colin McGinn says:

      No, no further explanation.

      • Gordon says:

        So maybe the writers did know the difference and you’ve taken a pessimistic view, in this post, of other people’s knowledge/experience/intelligence. You may be right that they have no idea what they’re talking about. But the scene, as you’ve described it hardly justifies one in believing that. In fact, I’m inclined to be impressed that “consequentialism” and “utilitarianism” were even mentioned. I wonder if any if the writers actually studied some philosophy.

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