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Utilitarianism

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Key Features
· Relativist Theory
­ No Absolutes
­ Morality Depends on individual circumstances
· Hedonistic
­ Happiness is the most important thing
­ Quality and Quantity of Happiness need to be taken into account
· Principle of Utility
­ The Measure of Usefulness or Fittingness for purpose an action…

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Teleological Ethics
· In order to understand Utilitarianism, you
must first study Teleological Ethics, which
share many principles with Utilitarianism.
· Teleological Ethics is to judge whether or not
an action is moral by purely looking at the
result or consequence of the action.
· This is also known as…

Page 4

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Teleological Ethics
· In Teleological Ethics, there are no moral absolutes.
· Teleological Ethics only consider the consequence of an
action, and disregard the motive or circumstances.
· Teleological Theories are consequentialist (based on
consequences)
· Actions only have Instrumental Value, not intrinsic
value. (see table below to see definitions)

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Problems with Teleological Ethics
· How do you decide what a morally good or
bad consequence is?
· There are many conflicting factors
· We can't tell the future, we have no way of
knowing what the consequences will be!

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The Principle of Utility
· Teleological Ethical theories tend to rely on the Principle of
Utility
· This is defined as the "measure of usefulness or fittingness
for purpose an action may have"
· A Principle of Utility is a way of measuring how useful an
action is in bringing…

Page 7

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Hedonism
· Hedonism is the belief that happiness is more
important than anything else
· Pleasure or happiness are often
interchangeable and used to mean the same
thing

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"Nature has placed mankind
under the governance of
two masters, pain and
pleasure. It is for them
alone to point out what we
ought to do as well as what
we shall do."
-David Hume

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Before Utilitarianism
· Hume linked Utility with Happiness
· It is difficult to define Happiness
· Aristotle saw no difference between living well
(flourishing) and living normally. Well being is
part of the good life. This can include comfort
and enjoyment

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Act Utilitarianism
'Act Utilitarianism' is the earliest form of Utilitarianism. It was first put forward by
scholar Jeremy Bentham

· Act Utilitarianism is a Relativist theory, which means that nothing is
always right or wrong and the choice of actions depend on circumstances,
which allows flexibility and is intuitive.
·…

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