Utilitarianism Mindmap

A mindmap covering the key topics of utilitarianism

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Wanted to find a way of defining right and wrong
without a need for a transcendent authority
Called his principle
'the principle of utility'
The question is not Can they reason? nor,
He was concerned about social reform Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?"
Jeremy Bentham
How free from pain is it?
Will it lead to further pleasure?
How near is the it? ACT UTILITARIANISM
Each action should be
Intensity judged on its ability to bring
Hedonic Calculus How intense is it?
about the greatest
happiness for the greatest
How certain is it?
Thinking in this case, about the rightness or Extent
wrongness of an action, that takes only the How wide are the effects?
consequences of an action into consideration
How long does the pleasure last?
Utility principle
the morality of an action is determined by its Qualitititive
utility (usefulness) Concerned with the value and nature It is logical to link morality with the pursuit of
happiness and the avoidance of pain and
Jeremy Bentham misery. This is called 'the moral sense'
Hedonic calculus
created by Bentham - a utilitarian system
whereby the effects of an action can me Quantitive It is somewhat natural to consider the
measured as to the amount of pleasure they concerned with the amount consequences of an action when deciding what
create to do
Hedonism It does not support individual pursuits that are at
Rule utilitarianism the expense of the majority
The belief that pleasure is the chief good.
Key Words A version of utilitarianism in which general rules
are assessed for their happiness making
Act Utilitariansism It is a secular morality despite the fact that it
properties rather than individual decisions.
a version of utilitarianism according to which the shares some of the concerns of Christian
Actions are therefore right or wrong depending
rightness or wrongness of individual acts are upon whether they conform to a happiness ethics
calculated by the amount of happiness resulting making rule not because of their individual
from these acts. effects Problems with Act Utilitarianism
Preference utilitarianism Depends upon accurate predictions of the future
Teleological a utilitarian theory interested in the best but humans do not always display accurate
It stresses that an action is right or wrong consequences for those involved rather than foresight. Consequences may not be apparent
depending on its purpose/ intended outcome. what creates the most pleasure and least pain till years after the event.
based on or influenced by personal tastes, We may not have all of the information required
feelings etc. by the hedonic calculus and this may mean that
the prediction is not accurate.
Act Utilitarianism can have some very extreme
eg. Eradication of leisure
It is not adequate on its own. If you want to
claim certain things are absoluteley right or
Suggests that pleasure should not be the wrong then it must be supplemented with
principal consideration in a utilitarian ethical Recognised the frailty of human nature - a natural law or religious authority
consideration person might not strive for the highest
happiness in favour of a closer less intense eg. It's wrong to lie
pleasure. There is some benefit to this maxim- without it
He proposes a utilitarian system with 'the best
interests' of the individuals concerned at the people would find it hard to trust each other. He
The investigation of undifferentiated cells taken Higher Pleasures RULE UTILITARIANISM therefore proposed a rule that contributes to the
heart of ethical decision making.
from human embryos Pleasures associated with the mind- intellectual Rules should be formulated first greater happiness. Breaking the rule might
pursuits, mental discipline, cultural activities, based on utilitarianist principles. contribute to anindi visuals short term happiness
His utilitarianist approach is to weigh up the spiritual reflection etc. The individual can then judge but is detrimental to long term happiness for all
interests of all those affected by an individual's concerned
Capable of curing numerous diseases eg. whether specific acts are
cancer Lower Pleasures
Pleasures associated with the body- satisfying Mill argued for a system which included the
the bodily need for food,water, sleep etc. individual's conscience, instead of the harsh,
'My interests cannot, simply because they
Peter Singer Causes destruction of embryos mechanistic approach of act utilitarianism.
are my interests, count more than the
interests of anyone else'
'It is better to be a human dissatisfied than a
pig satisfied; better to be Socrates
dissatisfied than Socrates satisfied'
The only issue with ESCR is if the rich can buy
them to improve offspring and the poor cannot ESCR
making for a superhuman race. But there is no
issue with destroying embryos. Rule Utilitarianism overcomes some of
Bentham's problems
John Stuart Mill
Allowing some rules to be in place means that a
person doesn't have to compromise their values
It is possible that Rule utilitarianism could permit
Hare argues for preference utilitarianism
certain practices like slavery that appear to be "The end may justify the means as long as
morally unacceptable. After all there is no there is something that justifies the end."
The utilitarian evaluation of an action would Problems with Rule Utilitariansism guarantee that minority interests will be Leon Trotsky
include the preferences of the person, unless protected
these preferences conflicted with those of
Utilitarianism Negatives RM Hare gives the example of a maniac
chasing someone who hides in a shop. the
The 'right thing to do' is to maximise the maniac asks the shopkeeper where the person
satisfaction of each individual involved is. Human instinct is to lie but In keeping with
Rule utilitarianism the shopkeepers old have to
R.M. Hare
This attempts to get round the the problem that be honest though this would not create the
happiness is subjective. under Bentham's and greatest good.
mills utilitarianism it was presupposed they CHAMPIONS AN EXTRINSIC VIEW ON
there was one single idea of happiness MORAL AGENCY
Buddhist Ethics have been compared to Mills However mill states the only harm in existence
rule utilitarianism because of their emphasis on is physical
on not causing harm
Sidgwick's thinking was not a new version of
utilitarianism, but rather an attempt to see how
However Bentham states happiness is whatever
we. old arrive at a rational basis for taking The goal of achieving happiness is almost like a
the individual deems it to be
certain actions spiritual goal so is spiritually acceptable
eg. Happiness for one person could be
worshipping Satan!
The consequence in terms of happiness of an Evidently this does not align with Judaeo-
action need not be the motive for the action. However Christianity and Utilitarianism can be Christian Ethics
Sidgwick considered it possible to look at the viewed as compatible because they often reach
motives for an action in terms of utility. the same decision
Eg. a Christian may believe that have a duty to
end suffering like Christian pastor Dietrich
An action could be considered good if it's motive
Bonhoeffer who tried to assassinate Hitler.
was to bring about the maximum good for the
Henry Sidgwick
maximum number, regardless of the actual
This approach can be called Motive
It is also incompatible with Christian ethics
because it uses people as a means to an end to
increase the happiness of the majority. Religious compatability
Christians are all beings made in the image and
likeness of God therefore they can't be used as It could be argued
that the sacrifice of
a means to an end. It also denies people of their one for the
god given rights. happiness of many
may be consistent
with Christian
The Catholic Decalogue prohibits blasphemy, teaching eg.
Maximilian Kolbe
theft and killing in an absolute manner. who volunteered to
die in place of an
Auschwitz prisoner
The majority of religions eg. Christianity, Islam,
Judaism are legalistic and have moral codes.
Eg. The church does not permit divorce even if
the woman were being abused.
Here gods law is placed above the happiness of
the woman.
Situation Ethics
Christians are also encouraged to 'bear their which is a Christian
cross' as Jesus did because in their view Ethic is a
continuation of
suffering is Good. Obviously utilitarianism main
goal is to minimise suffering, hence adding to because In fetches
their incompatibility. third proposition he
takes the happiness
of Utilitarianism and
replaces it with love


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