Utilitarianism

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  • Utilitarianism
    • General Principle
      • Utilitarianism is teleological/ consequential
      • Based on the idea of right and wrong depending on the consequences
      • Carried out using the hedonic calculus, requires thought and judgment
      • Contrasts with deontological ethics such as Divine Command Theory
      • Humanity is governed by pleasure and pain
      • Actions are judged according to their Utility
      • GHP - It is right if it generates the greatest good for the greatest number
      • Each individual counts equally, both humans and animals should be taken into account
      • Different approaches within Utilitarianism
    • Bentham's Utilitarianism
      • Argued that humanity is ruled by pleasure and pain
      • Hedonic calculus consists of 7 factors
        • 1) Intensity - Stronger happiness is better than weaker
        • 3) Certainty - If pleasure is definite it's better than a posibility
        • 2) Duration - Longer lasting pleasure is better than brief
        • 4) Remoteness - More immediate in space and time is better
        • 6) Purity - A pleasure mixed with no pain, is the greatest pleasure
        • 7) Extent - The more people sharing the pleasure, the better
        • 5) Richness - Pleasure that leads to further pleasure is better
      • Focus on pleasure, measured by the hedonic calculus
      • 'Quality of pleasure being equal, push-pin (a simple child's game) is as good as poetry'
      • Believed all pleasures are on the same scale and therefore can be compared quantitively
      • 'Pleasure is the sole good, pain is the sole evil'
    • Mill's Utilitarianism
      • Quality of happiness is important
      • Higher pleasures have greater value - 'better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig'
      • 'It is quite compatible with the principle of utility to recognise the fact that some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others'
      • Utilitarianism's been referred to Eudaimonistic (concerned with human well-being)
      • He agreed with the utility principle (GHP) but had an issue will the quantitative element
      • Associated with Rule Utilitarianism
      • Developed a system of higher (studying) and lower (eating) pleasures
      • Focus on happiness
    • Rule Utilitarianism
      • Justified if it promotes the greatest happiness
      • GHP is applied to create rules
      • Mill allowed rules could be broken in exceptional circumstances
      • Creating rules for societies as a whole to follow in order to create the greatest happiness
    • Act Utiliterianism
      • The hedonic calculus is used to calculate the consequences
      • Each action is assessed individually
      • GHP is applied to every individual act
      • All actions are a means to and end
      • The interest of the individuals are taken into account but sometimes not the minority is protected  E.G) Gang rape
      • No action is intrinsically right or wrong

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