Utilitarianism sample qs & answers

sample questions & answers

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a. strengths of Mill's Utilitarianism (25)
Mill was a philosopher who tried to resolve the weaknesses in Bentham's Utilitarian theory by
stating that there were higher and lower pleasures and that we should aim for the higher
pleasures (pleasures of the mind) rather than the lower pleasures (pleasures of the body).
Additionally, he was concerned with quality rather than the quantity. Within his theory there
are many strengths.
Firstly, by believing that quality is more important than quantity it helps the minority which with
normal Utilitarianism may be ignored. For example, if there was an arena where a gladiator
was forced to stay with a lion, the gladiator may not be very happy to be eaten by the lion but
the audience may be very happy watch it ­ with normal Utilitarianism the gladiator would be
suffering because he is in the minority therefore he would have to be killed in order to bring
the most happiness. However, with Mill's Utilitarianism the gladiator would be saved because
it is a lower pleasure because you are only watching it.
Secondly, his theory is focused on happiness which is a good thing as it is much better to make
people happy than sad. For example, with Kant's theory of duty people may feel obliged to do
their duty without being happy whereas with Utilitarianism you focus on people happy which
makes people nicer as with Mill's Rule Utilitarianism you have to make sure that everyone
else will be happy when you make your choice .
Thirdly, as he is a Rule Utilitarian which means that general principles have to be formulated
and apply to all situations which makes sure that there is a fair society and that society in
general is always considered. This creates caring people which makes it easier for everyone
to get along without arguments. It also makes us think beyond our own interests which makes
humans less self obsessed. For example if someone considered stealing some money from a
bank with rule Utilitarianism they would consider the feelings of the bank owner and realise
that actually by stealing this money it may make them happy but it won't make the bank owner
happy or the people who invest in that bank. They would then decide not to steal.
Moreover, Mill states that " it is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied" meaning
that it is better to be a dissatisfied human as we can get to higher pleasures eventually and a
satisfied animal can only can lower pleasures. This shows that humans are more intellectual
than an animal which makes us feel better about ourselves as we can be seen as rulers.
a. Explain how Bentham's version of Utilitarianism
Bentham was a philosopher who believed that humans were motivated by the greatest
happiness and pleasure. Being a hedonist he concluded that good and bad could be
measured in terms of simple quantities of pleasure or pain. Pleasure was seen as the sole
good and pain was evil therefore as humans we persue pleasure and avoid pain. He
formulated his theory of the principle of utility and this was a teleological argument. His main
aim was to create an ethical theory that established whether an action was good or bad
according to the benefit for the majority.
The Principle of utility states that the right action is the one that brings the greatest good for
the greatest number of people. He believed that an action could be judged on the amount of
pain or pleasure it causes. For example if someone was to be hanged and it made the person

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In order to help us figure out what was the best thing to do , Betham provided the Hendonic
calculus. For an action to be purely good it had to go through 7 categories which were:
intensity(how deep), duration(how long), certainty( how certain or uncertain that the action will
result in pleasure), remoteness(how far or near), succession( how continuous), purity( how
secure) and extent( how universal).…read more

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This shows that humans are more intellectual
than an animal which makes us feel better about ourselves as we can be seen as rulers.…read more


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