Ultilitarianism, Act, Rule & Perference

Act, Rule and Perference

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Distinction between ACT and RULE is to do with what the principle of utility.
According to ACT UTIL the principle is applied directly to a particular action in
a particular circumstance
According to RULE UTIL the principle is applied to a selection of a set rules
which are in turn used to determine what to do in particular situations
Act Util ­ Teleological ­ Relative ­ Consequential
You must decide what action will lead to the greatest good in the particular
situation you are facing and apply the principle of utility directly ­ You need to
look at the consequences of a particular act and what will bring about the
greatest happiness
1) It is difficult to predict the consequences
2) There is potential to justify any act
3) There is difficulty in defining pleasure
4) There is no defence for the minorities
5) It is impractical to say that we should calculate the morality of each choice
Rule Util ­ Deontological ­ Relative ­ Consequential
Rules should be formed using the util principles for the benefit of society ­ your
action is judged right or wrong by the goodness or badness of the
consequences of a rule that everyone should follow in similar circumstances ­
it enables us to establish rules which will promote the happiness of humanity
and will generally be right in most circumstances (e.g. telling the truth) ­
Strong Rule utilitarian's believe that these derived rules should never be
Weak Rule utilitarian's say that although there should be generally accepted
rules or guidelines, they should not always be adhered to indefinitely.
There may be situations where the better consequences might be achieved by
disregarding the rule (e.g. where it might be better to lie)
Weaknesses ­
1) It is difficult to predict the consequences
2) It is difficult to define what constitutes happiness
3) There is no defence for the minorities
4) To invoke rules means that the approach becomes deontological not teleological
5) Followers of Rule Util can either be strict rule-followers or rule-modifiers, but
neither seems satisfactory ­ Strict rule-followers can be irrational: obeying the rule
even when disobeying it will produce more happiness. Rule-modifiers can end up
being no different from Act utilitarian's

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The Preference
Preference Utilitarianism ­ Eudaimonistic ­ CONSEQUENTIAL ­
An Act utilitarian judges right or wrong according to the maximisation of
pleasure and minimising pain, a Rule utilitarian judges right or wrong according
to the keeping of rules derived from utility, but a Preference utilitarian judges
moral actions according to whether they fit in with the preferences of the
individuals involved
However, because Util aims to create the GREATEST GOOD FOR THE
GREATEST NUMBER, it is necessary to consider the preferences of others…read more


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