Utilitarianism

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  • Created on: 13-04-14 15:53
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  • Utilitarianism
    • Jeremy Bentham
      • Three parts of theory
        • View on what drives human beings and what goodness and badness are
          • Human beings are motivated by pleasure and pain
            • He is a HEDONIST
              • 'Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do'
                • Pleasure is sole good and pain sole evil
        • Principle of Utility, his moral rule
          • Rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by its utility or usefulness
            • Usefulness refers to amount of pleasure caused by an action
              • 'An action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number
                • Good is maximisation of pleasure and minimisation of pain
                  • Democratic: Pleasure can't be for one person alone
        • Hedonic Calculus for measuring how good or bad a consequence is
          • Intensity
          • Duration
          • Extent
          • Propinquity or remoteness
          • Fecundity
            • Chance of being followed by sensations of same kind
          • Purity
            • Chance of being followed by sensations of opposite kind
          • Certainty
      • Principles of Morals and Legislation
    • John Stuart Mill
      • Utilitarianism
      • Well-being of individual is of greatest importance
      • Happiness is most effectively gained when individuals are free to pursue their own ends, subject to rules protecting common good of all
      • Concerned about greatest good for greatest number eg in case of sadistic guards
        • If it was purely quantitative, what would stop one person's pleasure being completely extinguished by an act from which the majority got pleasure?
          • Mill focused on qualitative pleasures and developed a system of higher and lower pleasures
            • "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied"
              • Pleasures of mind are higher than those of the body
                • Link between the two; we need to eat and drink to survive in order to read poetry and enjoy art
    • Act Utilitarianism
      • Jeremy Bentham
        • Three parts of theory
          • View on what drives human beings and what goodness and badness are
            • Human beings are motivated by pleasure and pain
              • He is a HEDONIST
                • 'Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do'
                  • Pleasure is sole good and pain sole evil
          • Principle of Utility, his moral rule
            • Rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by its utility or usefulness
              • Usefulness refers to amount of pleasure caused by an action
                • 'An action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number
                  • Good is maximisation of pleasure and minimisation of pain
                    • Democratic: Pleasure can't be for one person alone
          • Hedonic Calculus for measuring how good or bad a consequence is
            • Intensity
            • Duration
            • Extent
            • Propinquity or remoteness
            • Fecundity
              • Chance of being followed by sensations of same kind
            • Purity
              • Chance of being followed by sensations of opposite kind
            • Certainty
        • Principles of Morals and Legislation
      • Principle of utility must be applied to each situation
        • Value of consequences count, the happiness that they bring measure the value
          • Flexible and takes into account situations
            • Potential to justify any act if it generates most happiness
            • Impractical to measure every action and choice as we may not have all information required by hedonic calculus
            • Can have extreme results; cinema goer and charity collector
    • Rule Utilitarianism
      • John Stuart Mill
        • Utilitarianism
        • Well-being of individual is of greatest importance
        • Happiness is most effectively gained when individuals are free to pursue their own ends, subject to rules protecting common good of all
        • Concerned about greatest good for greatest number eg in case of sadistic guards
          • If it was purely quantitative, what would stop one person's pleasure being completely extinguished by an act from which the majority got pleasure?
            • Mill focused on qualitative pleasures and developed a system of higher and lower pleasures
              • "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied"
                • Pleasures of mind are higher than those of the body
                  • Link between the two; we need to eat and drink to survive in order to read poetry and enjoy art
      • Focuses on general rules that everyone should follow to bring greatest good for the community
        • Best overall rule is the one which when followed by all will bring greatest happiness to society
          • Must always follow rules of area that we are in at that time
            • Rule takes priority over individual situation
          • Cinema goer would be able to see film as a rule allowing people leisure time would be acceptable
          • R M Hare: we cannot lie if a maniac asks where someone hiding in my shop is as the rule is 'do not lie' however the consequence will not bring greatest happiness
          • Could permit practises seen as morally acceptable such as slavery
          • No guarantee minority interests will be protected

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