Slides in this set
· Comes from the word "utilis" = usefulness
· So...utilitarianism is a theory of usefulness
· Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which
states that the usefulness is the good; the
aim was the greatest happiness for the
· It is a form of teleological ethics, meaning
that the moral worth of an action is
determined by its outcome…read more
Teleological end/telos, the result/end/consequences determines
whether something was right or wrong; therefore the end justifies the
· Stealing and lying can be right if it leads to a better situation e.g. to
feed a starving family
· Qualities e.g. love, honesty, kindness are not good in themselves
(intrinsic), they are only good in an instrumental way (e.g. torture
deontology it's always wrong, teleology can be right if torturing
saves the lives of many
· Greatest principle of utility is that happiness = pleasure
· Widespread and popular ethical theory based upon the principle of
Egoism "serve your own long term interest"
· What is important is the greatest happiness not just for yourself but
· Individual happiness cannot take precedence over collective
Jeremy Bentham (1748 1832)
· Child genius and hedonist who lived at a time of great social and
scientific change including the Industrial revolution and revolutions in
France and the USA.
· The Industrial Revolution (18th and 19th Centuries) great
developments in transport links and technology, more people living
in poverty than ever before in horrific conditions.
· These times led to demands for greater rights and democracy.
· Bentham worked on legal reforms and wrote "The Principles of
Legislation and Morals"
· He wanted a UNIVERSAL theory of usefulness covering social
reform, political reform and ethical decisions.
· HE CREATED A THEORY WHICH HAS 3 PARTS....…read more
Bentham The Three Parts to his
1. VIEW ON WHAT DROVE HUMAN
BEINGS THE MOTIVATION OF
2. PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY
3. HEDONIC CALCULUS (measuring how
good or bad a consequence is)…read more
The Motivation of Human Beings
· As a hedonist, he believed human beings were
driven by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain:
"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."
· As such, pleasure is the sole intrinsic good, pain
the sole intrinsic evil.
· This is why Bentham's Utilitarianism is often
known as Hedonic (pleasure) Utilitarianism and
sometimes Act Utilitarianism…read more