utilitarianism

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  • Created by: kelsey
  • Created on: 17-03-14 19:18

Teleological Ethics

  • A teleological ethical theory concerns purpose, end, function and goal of an action. 
  • Hense teleological theories are consequentionalist, and whether an action is good or bad, right or wrong depends on the outcome.

Several immediate issues:

  • No moral absolutes. 
  • Always right or wrong no matter the circumstances.
  • Moral goodness or badness would be judged according to how well it would bring about the intended results, not whether the action or intention was inherently right or wrong. 
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The principle of Utility

  • Teleological eithical theories tend to rely on the principle of utility. 
  • This is the measurement of usefulness,
  • Both utilitarianism and situation ethics establish a principle of utility for judging the morality of an action. For utilitarianism the principle if utility is the greatest hapiness for the greatest number. 

Happiness or pleasure:

  • The consideration for the 'greatest number' is significant.
  • Bentham discovered the phrase 'greatest good of the greatest number'
  • Motivated by the desire to establish a universal theory that could be applied to all ethical situations.
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The principle of Utility

  • Teleological eithical theories tend to rely on the principle of utility. 
  • This is the measurement of usefulness.
  • Both utilitarianism and situation ethics establish a principle of utility for judging the morality of an action. For utilitarianism the principle if utility is the greatest hapiness for the greatest number. 

Happiness or pleasure:

  • The consideration for the 'greatest number' is significant.
  • Bentham discovered the phrase 'greatest good of the greatest number'
  • Motivated by the desire to establish a universal theory that could be applied to all ethical situations.
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J. S. Mill and The Development of Utilitarianism

  • Reassess Betham's theory.
  • Bentham's comfortable life had given him a non-real basis on which to assess what was really important to humans.
  • Bentham had made a fundimental error in his assessment of what human beings found desirable.
  • Failed to recognise the deeper levels of human experience. 
  • Mill maintained that happiness is 'Much to complex and indefinite' to be the measure of the moral worth of an action. Happiness is a very unpecific term.
  • Mill suggested that humans have worked through trial and error those actions that led best to human happiness, which they promote through moral rules, which he termed secondary principles: 'Do not lie', 'Protect the weak', 'Keep your promises'. This is essentially rule utilitarianism, a more sophisticated application of bentham's theory. Rather than claiming that we should always perform the action that gives greatest happiness, this suggests actions should be guided by rules. 
  • Consider the practical consequences of an action before carrying it out.
  • Mill observed that the happiness different people derive from different actions cannot be reasonably compared. 
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J.S.Mill and the development of utilitarianism

  • Reassess Betham's theory.
  • Bentham's comfortable life had given him a non-real basis on which to assess what was really important to humans.
  • Bentham had made a fundimental error in his assessment of what human beings found desirable.
  • Failed to recognise the deeper levels of human experience. 
  • Mill maintained that happiness is 'much to complex and indefinite' to be the measure of the moral worth of an action. Happiness is a very unpecific term.
  • Mill suggested that humans have worked through trial and error those actions that led best to human happiness, which they promote through moral rules, which he termed secondary principles: 'do not lie', 'protect the weak', 'keep your promises. this is essentially rule utilitarianism, a more sophisticated application of bentham's theory. Rather than claiming that we should always perform the action that gives greatest happiness, this suggests actions should be guided by rules. 
  • Consider the practical consequences of an action before carrying it out.
  • Mill observed that the happiness different people derive from different actions cannot be reasonably compared. 
5 of 6

Utilitarianism: Success or Failure?

  • Asks us to consider no more than the greatest good of the greatest number. 
  • Requires ability to predict the long-term consequences of an action, and to predict those consequences with unfailing accuracy. 
  • Approaching ethics in a systematic way that was simple to understand and apply. 
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