Jeremy Bentham's Act Utilitarianism

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  • Act Utilitarianism
    • Why was it developed?
      • Promote happiness
      • Bentham made the empirical observation that people avoid pain and seek pleasure.
      • Jeremy Bentham
      • Social issues at the time, e.g. women's rights.
    • Hedonic Calculus
      • Duration - How long it lasts.
      • Richness - How likely it is to lead to further happiness.
      • Intensity - how intense the pleasure is.
      • Purity - How free from pain the outcome is.
      • Certainty - how certain you are the pleasure will occur.
      • Remoteness- how far away in time it is
      • Extent - how many people feel happy. (How many hedons are produced).
      • Used to find which action will best serve the principle of utility.
    • Principle of Utility
      • "The greatest happiness for the greatest number"
      • The final aim of any good action
      • The only rule in Act Utilitarianism is that an action must serve the principle.
    • Type of theory
      • Teleological - it is concerned with the end goal of an action.
      • Consequential -makes moral judgements according to the consequences of an action.
      • Relativistic - no universal moral norms, and each situation is considered individually.
    • Important quotes.
      • "the game of push-pin is equal to the arts and sciences of music and poetry."
      • "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters - pain and pleasure."
      • "Every law is an infraction of liberty."
    • Remember  - Bentham considered all pleasure equal.
    • Advantages
      • Makes people consider the end results of each action they make.
      • The hedonic calculus encourages people to think deeply before acting.
      • More happiness is a is universally considered a good thing, so it can be accepted across many cultures.
    • Disadvantages
      • Easily manipulated to allow immoral actions to occur.
      • Judging all pleasures equal can lead to people  justifying a halt in advancement.
        • If playing video games is equal in pleasure to getting good GCSE results, it is possible to prioritise playing them instead of revising.
      • It jeopardises the minority (which can be anywhere up to 49%) to please the majority.
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