UTILITARIANISM

BENTHAM, MILL, SINGER

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Key Features
* The greatest good for the greatest number first termed by Francis Hutchinson
> Teleological determined by consequences
> Single principle ethic
> Hedonic pleasure seeking
> Democratic majority determines what is right
> Secular ethic not based on God
> Egalitarian everyone equal. Bentham argued 'Each to count for one and no more than one'
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Jeremy Bentham
> Argued for the principle of utility actions judged as good or bad depending on results
> We should choose to bring about the greatest happiness for the greatest number
> Universal ethical hedonism if an action increases pleasure, it is right
> Hedonic Calculus intensity, duration, purity, extent, fecundity, propinquity, certainty
'Utility' refers to the tendency of producing happiness, not usefulness
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Bentham's Hedonic Calculus
Strengths:
Conclusive
Guidelines, offers structure
Flawless evaluation of pleasure
Simple to understand
Weaknesses:
Subjective
Unrealistic, impractical e.g. time limits may occur which it doesn't allow for
Couldjustify immoral acts
Uncompassionate, doesn't consider human feelings
Cannot take consequences into account
> Bentham founder of British Utilitarianism
> Social context French+ IndustrialRevolutions, social upheaval, Dickensian England
> Pleasure is subjective it is presumed that it is quantative rather than
qualitativeunrealistic/impractical/uncompassionate
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John Stuart Mill
> Developed a theory referring to qualitative not quantitative pleasures
> Argued that pleasures of the mind take precedence over physical ones

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Humanity's primary concern should be for the 'higher order of things'
> Said 'It is better to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a fool satisfied'
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Nina Rosenstand
Utilitarianism in the Work Place
> Contemporary philosopher
> In hospitals QUALY (quality, life, adjusted years), used to determine who is most worthy of saving
> Job front marks awarded for different desirable attributes
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Strengths
# Evaluation of moral choices influenced only by personal preferences no consideration of
consequences
# Consensus that…read more

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Scholarly Opinion
J C C Smart: Pro Utilitarianism
> It has its weaknesses but no moral system is perfect
> Sometimes acting for the greatest number can cause short term suffering a reasonable exchange
> Utilitarianism offers an objective basis for making moral decisions
Bernard Williams: Anti Utilitarianism
> It can lead to unjust actions if slavery brings more happiness than pain, does it become reasonable?
> Overstates the importance of things that are measurable.…read more

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Utilitarianism teleological ethical theory
(from an A grade answer)
a)
Based on the principle of utility defines the sole intrinsic good as happiness or pleasure and the goal of
a moral action as the creation of the greatest happiness for the greatest number outlined by Jeremy
Bentham and J.S Mill
Morality of an action is determined by consequences, not motives. If the consequences are good, bad
motives cannot be brought under judgement.…read more

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