EVALUATING UTILITARIANISM

EVALUATING UTILITARIANISM

CONSEQUENTILISTS ethical theory/ teleological ethical theory

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Utilitarianism
STRENGHTS
Straightforward and based on a single principle of minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure and
happiness. A system which aims to create a happier life for individuals and groups is attractive,
what both theists/atheists would seek for.
Relates to action which individuals could easily relate to since its based on the real world e.e.
giving money to charity promotes happiness for poor people, which is een as good for everyone
whereas cruelty is seen as bad.
Its consequaltilism nature means that we act , it is natural to weigh up the consequences, which is
a strength
Acceptance of universal principles for any ethical system. Its is important to go beyong your own
personal point of view
The idea of prmoting the "wellbring" of the greatest number is important for example the basis of
our health care system is provided to improvwe the heath of the population. If more money is spent
on health services, people are more likely to be heathier and therefore happier since they have a
better quality of life
Hare says Preference Utilitarianism gives us the valueable principle of being an impartial
ovserverby allowing us to "stand in someone else shoes" . Its important to think about others'
interest or preferences as long as it includes behaving justly.
WEAKNESSES
Difficult to predict the accuracy of our actions
Ignores the importance of Duty, the act may be right/wrong for reasons other than the amount og
good/bad an action may bring around. Duty is not stemmed from self intreste and is non
consequential is motive more important that outcomes? Should promise be kept/the truth be told
and obligation honbourwed? W.D. Ross states that the role of duty had some importance and
advocates prima facie duties as more acceptable
Can advocate injustice in minoryt cases
The emphasis of pleasure and happiness raises q. if I seek my own happiness it is impossible for
me to seek general happiness and to do what I ought to do
Qualitative/quantitiative raises problems. How do we measure ones pleasure againsts others? As
all we can really do is to guess the unit of pleasure. Should we maximize the average happiness or
the total happiness e.g. should the gov give tax cuts fotr the minority witrh the lowest imcome or
spread the cuts thinkly across all tax payers? Bentham would allow an evil majority to prevail over
the good minority and the exploitation of the imoiryt. Does this not go against what we would
consider ethical behaiours?
Does not consider motivations/intentions and so rejects the principles of tyreating people ith
intrinsic value. Does not take into any notice opf personal commitments but only considers the
conxequences of an action. Willians(1973) states we should not ignore integrity and personal
responcibilities for moral actions, people need to retain their integrity (truth) even if this leads to
unwanted consequences
Rawls: Too impersonal, does not consider the rights of individuals in its attempt to look for the
"greater good"

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UTILITARIANISM AND RELIGIOUS ETHICS
Christian ethics is more deontological than teleological as exemplified by the 10 Commandments
Natural moral Law differs from U since it uses our own reasons, we can arrive to our moral
knmoeldge, doesn not justify that the endsjustify the means . NML does take a teleological
approach since it looks beyond the world, there is a purpose as a union of God even if that is not
aimed/intentional.…read more

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APPLICATION TO MEDICAL DILEMMAS
EMBRYO RESEARCH IVF BRAIN DEATH/LIFE STEM CELLS
SUPPORT MACHINE
Does not accept that human life Spare IVF embryos would be Singer argues that life ends when
has an absolute value, which destroyed, they might as well be your brian dies so life must
should be promoted whatever used for a good cause. U works bvegin when the brain starts
the consequence. Attepts to only if its actually possible to working.…read more

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Embyo reserahc up the the lawful
14 days is allowed by the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology
Authouiryty wouldn not be a
provlem. The early embryo does
not feel pain and so embryo
research can not be measured
using the hedionic calaculus.
However the benefits of ER can
be measured using the hedonic
calculs the pleasure brought
about by finding a cure to a
disease like Parkinsons
outweights the cots to the mbyo.
It is acceptable to use the
embryo as a means to an end.…read more

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