Overview of the utilitarianism theory

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  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 07-04-12 17:17


First proposed by Jeremy Bentham in his book
|__| Principles of Morals and Legislations |__|
He was a hedonist - seeking pleasure
His theory is teleological - Looked at the consequence of an action
Actions are intrinsically neutral
Comes in two parts
Act utilitarianism & Rule utilitarianism later proposed by John Stuart Mill

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Act Utilitarianism

Benthams original version
Only the end justifies the action
Looks at individual situations

Can be used to justify anything though 
= can be bad 

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Rule util

Put forward by John Stuart Mill
He was a follower of Bentham
He didnt like the way benthams theory was based around quantity
His version was based around the quality of happiness
He also didnt like the way bethams theory didnt distinguish the diffrerence between pleasure and pain so he came up with the HIGHER & LOWER pleasures

Rule util was focused around there being basic rules to follow instead of going through the hedonic calculus everytime
Sometimes meant self sacrifice
The rules could be broken if needed though

Higher & Lower pleasures
Higher pleasures are pleasures of the mind - reading, opera, studying
Lower pleasures are bodily pleasures - eating, food, sex
Mill said that humans would go for a higher pleasure because it creates more satisfaction than a lower pleasure and this separates us from animals 

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Benthams Util

The original theory

3 parts
- What drives a human to their actions
- Principle of utility
- Hedonic calculus

-Bentham said that pleasure/pain drives humans to what they do
-He came up with the principle of utility which looks at an actions usefullness (how much pleasure for how many people). Basically it is the GHP, greatest happiness pleasure - greatest happiness for greatest number
-Came up with hedonic calculus to help us work out what is best

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