What does it mean to say that Utilitarianism places everything on the same "scale of value"? And why might this be objectionable?

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When we say that utilitarianism places everything on the same scale of value, we are saying that everything that brings people happiness or pleasure is equally valuable. There are no kinds of happiness that are superior or inferior to other kinds of happiness.  Some people might object to this because they feel that some kinds of activities and pleasures are more valuable than others.

The idea that some activities are more valuable than others is pervasive in our society.  People might talk about how it is better to read books than to watch movies. They might say that it is better to do things like working in your garden or doing yoga than it is to play video games or watch football on TV.  Many people would say that reading Shakespeare would be better than looking at cat pictures on the internet.  To these people, it is wrong to put everything on the same scale of value. If I derive x amount of pleasure looking at cat videos, it should not count as much as the x amount of value (even though x = x) that you derive from watching a performance of Hamlet. Because of this, these people would object to putting everything on the same scale of value.

When placed on the same scale, all of these amusements are equal in their potential value.  The pleasure I derive from watching football (or a reality show) is no less valuable than the pleasure you derive from a “better” pursuit like writing poetry or playing the violin.  This is what we mean when we say that utilitarianism places everything on the same scale of value. People can object to this because it denies the idea that some kinds of activities are inherently better than others and that some pleasures are superior to others.

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