Utilitarianism

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  • Utilitarianism
    • Jeremy Bentham Act utilitarianism
      • An action is right if, and only if, it produces the greatest balance of pleasure over pain for the greatest number.
      • Benthm 1748- 1832
        • interested in social reform during the industrial revolution.
        • The greatest good for the greatest number
          • 'Our actions and our rules, if we must have rules, are to be decided upon by determining which of them produces or may be expected to produce the greatest general balance of good over evil' K.Frankena
      • Whether an action is right or wrong, good or bad, depends on the outcome of the situation
        • According to this approach have an instrumental value only, not an intrinsic value at all.
          • Instrumental value; actions can help us get something else that we want
          • Intrinsic value; Something that we value purely for its own sake,
      • Hedonistic calculus
        • intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity, purity and extent
    • J.S Mill Rule Utilitarianism
      • 18-06-1873
      • A student of bentham and a son of Benthams colleague
        • began studying Greek at 3, Aristotles logic at 13 and suffered a nervous breakdown by 20
          • lead him to a conclusion that Bentham's comfortable life had given him a non-real basis to assess whats really important to humans.
            • 'He knew no dejection or heaviness of heart' what is good?
      • Suggests our actions should be guided by rules that, if everyone followed, would lead to the greatest overall happiness.
        • J.S Mill suggested actions that lead to the greatest overall happiness should be promoted through moral rules
          • termed 'secondary principles' i.e do not lie, protect the weak
      • Proposes we consider practical consequences of an action to asses each situation. to follow rules that have been established according to the principle of utility.
        • See's happiness as intrinsically related to the whole sum of human experiences, not simply instrumental.
      • Mill> everyone should pursure higher pleasures
        • Pleasures of the mind take precedence over physical ones
          • Humanity's primary concern should be for the 'higher order of things'
            • 'Better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satissfied'
    • negative Utilitarianism Karl Papper
      • Act to minimise suffering rather than maximise pleasure
        • believe maximising pleasure doesnt decrease suffering
      • Avoidable misery should be recognised
        • increasing happiness should be left, in the main, to private initiative.
    • Preference utilitarianism Peter Singer, R.M Hare
      • The satisfaction of peoples preferences rather than the greatest balance of pleasure over pain
        • Acting on preferences or ideals that are more important to them than their happiness
      • Does not require any experience
        • people can express their preference i.e not to be tortured, without having experienced torture
      • 'Stand in someone elses shoees'
        • Singer suggested people should take the view point of an impartial spectator combined with a broadly utilitarian approach
      • Dawkins and singer use utilitarianism to say euthanasia
    • A teleological ethical theory
      • The basis for judging the morality of an action is the consequences it yields- consequentialist.
      • Principle of Utility
        • The greatest happiness for the greatest number
      • Hedonistic ethical theory
        • Pleasure can be equated with good on several possible grounds

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