chapter  11
Philosophies of Public Policy in Conflict
ByMachan Tibor
Pages 28

This chapter seeks to explicate the concept and effect of collective utilitarianism and of a quite different ideology—individualism, often and properly associated with the unique US political tradition. “Individualism,” like “utilitarianism,” can designate both an ethical and a political theory. As an ethical theory, individualism is the position that it is each person’s moral responsibility to strive for personal success in life—which means being excellent as a human individual. Collectivist political theories and systems combine the ethical and the political aspects of human life into one organic scheme, while individualism does not. Collectivist utilitarianism makes the achievement of happiness the object of public policy, and changes the focus from individual happiness as such to the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Within collectivist utilitarianism the free rider problem is clear and of great political concern. It might be asked why the free rider problem focuses on wealth distribution rather than on maximizing happiness or wealth, however distributed.