IB Philosophy of Ethics: Utilitarianism

A mindmap summary of the main points behind Mill and Bentham's arguement for Utilitarianism. The strengths and weaknesses of the argument are also included. 

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Milly
  • Created on: 10-04-13 17:37
View mindmap
  • Utilitarianism
    • Jeremy Bentham
      • Principle of Utility
        • This can be considered democratic because everyone is equally valued and so it seems like a fair approach
        • An action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number
        • Good is a maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain
      • The hedonic calculus
        • Weighs up pain and pleasure generated by the available moral actions to find the best option
        • Intensity
        • Duration
        • Certainty or uncertainty
          • What is the probability that the pleasure or pain will occur?
        • Propinquity or remoteness
          • How far off in the future is the pleasure or pain?
        • Fecundity
          • What is the probability that pleasure will lead to other pleasures?
        • Purity
          • What is the probability that the pain will lead to other pains?
        • Extent
          • How many people will be affected by the pleasure?
        • Each measured out of 10
      • Humans instinctively pursue pleasure and avoid pain
      • Focused on pleasure to be pursued as an end in its own right
      • Focused on quality of pleasure
        • Push pin (a simple child's game) is as good as poetry
      • Assess each individual situation on its own merits with the aim of promoting the greatest happiness for those involved
    • Act Utilitarianism
      • In each situation, the decision made must promote the most happiness
      • Any laws can be broken as long as the outcome promotes happiness
      • The consequences must outweigh the actions in terms of happiness
      • Every choice must be decided with consequences in mind
    • Rule Utilitarianism
      • Focus on general rules that are designed in order to promote the most happiness
      • These rules are absolute and should always be followed, even if the situation appears to want you to break it, because the long term effect will not promote happiness
    • John Stuart Mill
      • Concerned with sadistic guards
        • Sadistic guards torture an innocent man
        • The guards pleasure seems to outweigh the pain of the innocent man
      • Focused on qualitative pleasures
        • Some pleasures purer than others
        • better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied
        • Intellectual pleasures are of higher worth
        • Physical/bestial pleasures are of lower worth
      • Weak rule Utilitarianism
        • Rule Utilitarianism
          • Focus on general rules that are designed in order to promote the most happiness
          • These rules are absolute and should always be followed, even if the situation appears to want you to break it, because the long term effect will not promote happiness
        • General rules that everyone should follow to bring about the greatest good
      • Greatest happiness principle
        • The good is which will bring about the greatest sum of pleasure, or the least sum of pain, for the greatest number
      • Focused on happiness as an indirect by product of other activities
      • Key influences
        • Aristotle and the Lake Poets
        • Wilhelm Von Humboldt
        • Classical liberalism
    • Weaknesses
      • There are too many factors to equate pleasure
      • Living by pleasure is very subjected and can promote action against the moral rules
      • May result in society being selfish and expect pleasures
      • It is difficult to determine what will produce pleasure or pain and in its greatest amount
      • Pain and pleasure are subjective
      • Lacks analogies
      • Pleasure can never be pure
      • Minority will always lack pleasure -majority may be corrupt
      • Could contradict law
      • Rule Utilitarianism very inflexible
      • Lack of autonomy
        • Less moral integrity
        • Unable to have responsibility their own moral projects
      • Ambiguous
        • The theory become arbitrary as you start to just make it up
        • What if there are two actions which will cause the same amount of pain.
          • For example, if you had to choose between breaking a promise you made to friend A or the promise to friend B. How would you choose.?
    • Strengths
      • Pleasure can be equated so you can ensure that you live a pleasurable life
      • Encourages society to be selfless
      • Will encourage people to create and achieve goals to ensure happiness
      • Pleasures or happiness are wanted to be achieved by the majority of people
      • Works alongside situation ethics and laws
      • Bentham takes into account many aspects of pleasure - future consequence
      • Not religious ethic - widely applicable
      • Usually conforms with instinctive moral and judicial law
      • Promotes social harmony
  • Principle of Utility
    • This can be considered democratic because everyone is equally valued and so it seems like a fair approach
    • An action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number
    • Good is a maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all resources »