Rule Utilitarianism

  • Created by: ewragg
  • Created on: 22-04-16 13:40
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  • Rule Utilitarianism
    • Founded by J.S.Mill
      • He based his teachings on Bentham who was the initial person to fully articulate Utilitarianism
      • Focused on happiness (satisfaction) over pleasure (gratification)
      • On Liberty
      • Made three alterations
        • Theory of Justice
        • Higher and Lower Pleasures
        • No Hedonic calculus
    • Based on Eudaimonism
      • Based on Hedonism
        • The theory that pleasure is the highest good
        • Or.. pleasure seeking perspective
      • A later view that happiness is the highest good
    • Teleological Theory
      • A theory or ethic where good or bad is based on the outcome of an action
        • Therefore the ends justifies the means
    • Normative Ethics
      • A branch of ethics that concerns how we ought to act
    • Key Features
      • Greatest Happiness Principle
        • An action should aim to maximise pleasure and minimise pain for the maximum number of people.
          • This supports the majority in a society
        • Actions are morally right if they produce happiness and actions are morally wrong if they produce pain.
        • Objections
          • Happiness can't be the rational purpose of life
          • It's unattainable
          • People can live without happiness
      • Universalisability
        • The rules apply to eveyone to bring happiness about
        • Everyone prefers happiness over pain
      • Quality of Pleasures
        • Higher Pleasures
          • Epicurus thought higher pleasures were intellect
        • Lower Pleasures
        • Mill disagreed with Bentham's argument that all pleasures are equal and it's the quantity of pleasure that counts.
          • Mill said that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable than others
      • Needs rules or guidelines
        • It focuses on general rules that everyone should follow to bring about the greatest good for the community
        • Unlike Act Utilitarianism, it states that you should ALWAYS obey the rules to ensure happiness
    • Benefits
      • Avoids issues raised by Act Utilitarianism
        • Rule-utilitarianism is often thought of as a compromise. We would prefer to each action produce as much happiness as possible, but that is not feasible because it involves herculean knowledge and effort.  A rule cannot be broken for the sake of more happiness because the only acceptable utilitarian calculations are about rules.
    • Drawbacks
      • Consequences - ability to discern what they are, what counts and the limit to causality (How far into the future does one look?).
      • Morality is proportionate to the happiness in being truly human and not to the sum of units of pleasure.
        • Pleasure and happiness are subjective
      • Bentham and Mill simply assume the principle of utility as their starting point. Simply because people desire pleasure or seek happiness does not necessarily mean that they ought to do so.


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