Critically assess the view that utilitarianism provides a helpful way to make moral decisions.

  • Created by: 15ras
  • Created on: 31-03-21 18:09

Critically assess the view that utilitarianism provides a helpful way to make moral decisions.


  • In introduction, briefly describe the "Principle of Utility", and the differences between Act and Rule utilitarianism
  • Moral decisions involve seeking a balance between good/evil, pleasure/pain, and through the "Hedonic Calculus" utilitarianism helps here.
  • Teleological and relativist ethical approaches are more useful than deontological and absolutist approaches like Natural Law Theory as they are more subjective and can be applied on a situational level
  • Trolley problem- compare both responses from Act and Rule utilitarianism and comment on the value of their perspectives to the situation
  • Utilitarianism is at its heart democratic and so as such it is well suited to our democratic society.


  • Moral decisions involve more than just seeking the greatest balance of good over evil, or pleasure over pain; factors such as duty and reason must be accounted for
  • It is not possible to adequately assess the benefit or harm of a moral decision through its consequences as these cannot be predicted with certainty
  • Following act utilitarian principles allows for the interest of the minority to be sacrificed for the advancement of the majority
  • Act utilitarianism does not provide a helpful way to reach a moral decision as it is based on the merits of each situation; rule utilitarianism does as it involves absolutist aspects in requiring that accepted laws are followed in the majority of circumstances


Disagree with the statement/ agree with caveat that Act utilitarianism can be limiting in its approach, but Rule utilitarianism is helpful when making moral decisions. Discus what is needed when trying to make a moral decision, as we are each subjective people with different minds, we require a set standard to which we can all be held accountable.


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