utilitarianism revision notes

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Jeremy Bentham 17481832
It a teleological ethic, and a consequentialist approach as whether an action is right or wrong it doesn't matter
the consequences are most important.Background.
Created by Jeremy Bentham, he was born in London at a time of great change. He was born in the eighteenth
century. It was a time of great depression, alcoholism and violence plague the streets you can see this in gin lane.
Jeremy Benthem saw humans were guided by two main motivations pain and pleasure. 'nature has placed
mankind under the governess of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure it is from them alone to point out
what we ought to do, as well as determine what we shall do' this ethic is hedonistic, as it strives to obtain
maximum pleasure. Pleasure is as the sole good and pain the sole evil.
Principle of utility for utilitarianism is the greatest good for the greatest number. This is hard to calculate as
happiness is relative and different to all. So Jeremy Bentham created a quantitative method via the hedonic
It has seven factors:
· intensity how deep or superficial the happiness is
· duration how temporary or permanent the happiness is
· certainty how sure the happiness is
· propinquity how near or remote the happiness is
· fecundityhow likely the happiness is to recur or lead to further happiness
· purity how free from pain the happiness is
· extent how far the happiness,giving effects of action will spread.
This can be obviously criticised for reducing happiness to a mere almost chemical reaction, and also leaving
room for really sadistic people to take advantage of the calculations. 'so long as they promised the best
consequences... it would forbid adsolutely nothing: not rape, not torture not even murder' by Peter Pettit. This
allows the majority to carry out violence on the minority.
J.S.Mill developing of utilitarianism
J.S.Mill was child genius, he was son to a colleague and follower of Bentham. He
criticised Bentham as he didn't experience hard ship in his life, where as Mill who had a
breakdown at 19 had. Mill focuses more on the individual than the whole groups,he also
said there is different types of happiness and view it in a more qualitative way then
Bentham's quantitative formulation. He said there were higher and lower pleasure, lower
pleasures were those of the body e.g. food,alchohol,sex. Where as higher pleasures were
of the mind e.g. literature, music, art etc. he argued all humans should strive for these
higher pleasures. Mill main quote is 'it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a
pig satisfied better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a good satisfied.' He created the harm principle, which
aims to create the least pain for the most people. This is because happiness is far to complex and not
universally similar where as pain is. This also stops most majority taking advantage on the minority.Strong and
weak utilitarianism.
Strong rule utilitarianism says certain rules have universal values and should always be followed no matter the
circumstances. Where as weak utilitarianism is more situational and says in certain circumstances in which
there are exceptions to these rules.

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Act and rule utilitarianism
act utilitarianism is where the principle of utility is applied to individual situations. Its particular to the situation
to what action will produce the greatest good. Its like sometimes in a situation lying is more profitable where as
in another situation it is not. It allows us to break the law if it produces the most happiness. Its more flexible
than other forms of utilitarianism. This is more associated with Jeremy Bentham.…read more

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