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Utilitarianism on 1 side of A4
Enlightenment breaking away from the authority of the church.
Newtonian Physics attempt to find a rational/scientific basis for ethics
French Revolution desire for political reform which acknowledged the equal rights of everyone
Bentham The Principle of Utility
Qu: What is the ultimate aim of people's lives? Ans: Happiness/Pleasure
Therefore the right thing to do is to maximise the happiness of the greatest number of people. It is a
Bentham developed a hedonic/felicific calculus (lit: pleasure/happiness calculator)
Duration Intensity Propinquity Extent
Certainty Purity Fecundity
According to Bentham, all pleasure is basically the same. All things being equal, "pushpin is as good a
Mill Higher and Lower Pleasures
Pleasures that we share with other animals (sex, satisfying hunger) are less valuable than pleasures that
are uniquely human (intellectual curiosity, appreciation of art). "Better Socrates dissatisfied than a pig
Types of Utilitarianism
Act Each act should be judged individually to maximise happiness.
Strong Act is too difficult to follow so make general rules based on what maximises happiness
Rule and always stick to them.
Weak Rule Use general rules but break them if it maximises happiness.
Negative Act to minimise pain/sadness not maximise pleasure/happiness.
Preference Act to maximise people's preferences. If someone prefers pain then try to maximise their
preference as well as everyone else's
Ideal Happiness isn't the only intrinsic good. Beauty, friendship and knowledge are also worth
maximising for their own sake.
People do often decide what is right and wrong It is impossible be sure of the consequences.
based on maximising good consequences. (drowning boy grows up to be Hitler)
It has universal appeal it doesn't depend on any It doesn't take into account intentions. (Tim, Tom
religious belief but uses a simple observation of and the BNP)
what human beings want from life.
It requires you to ignore special relationships.
It is EGAILTARIAN. Everyone is worth the (Donating kidney to mother or more needy
same. (Iraqi deaths are just as bad as British ones) stranger)
It is flexible it can adjust to suit changing times. It can allow for evil means to justify good ends.
(As we understand animal pain better we can (Torturing the innocent child of a terrorist to find a
change laws to reflect this) bomb)