Utilitarianism - Ethics (AS-OCR)

Theses revision cards are based on Utilitarianism and the important people with their theoires.

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  • Created by: Quincy
  • Created on: 07-01-11 16:29



Right actions are those which produce the greatest total pleasure for everyone affected by their consequences.

Wrong actions are those which do not produce the greatest total happiness.

Principle of Utility-

Greatest Good for the Greatest Number

Principle is Teleological

Moral valve judged by consequences

Consequentialist Theory

Actions are define right or wrong by the consequences

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Jeremy Bentham

We should choose actions that will create the greatest amount of pleasure for greatest number of people.

Hedonic Calculus

This is a calculater which measures if an action will bring greatest amount of pleasure.

There are 7 elements:

1. Intensity 

2. Duration

3. Certainty

4. Propinquity (Remoteness)

5. Fecundity (chance to further)

6. Purity (not follow pain)

7. Extent of Pleasure

it would be possible to calculate whom is morally right to rescue first from a fire: child or pregnant women, old man or scientist holding the ultimate cure for cancer.

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John Stuart Mill

He referred to Qualitative rather then quantitative pleasure

Pleasure of the mind is higher then the body

Mind pleasure would be listin to music, read a book

Body pleasure would be eating food, drinking

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Strengths of Theory

moral choices are personal preferences

Hold the belief that human well-being is good and that action be judged by the effect on this well-being.

Jesus said that people should treat people how they would like to be treated.

Motives may be good or bad but the consequences have the real effect on the human well-being.

Principle encourages domocratic appoach to desision making. Majority interest always dominates the minority interest but both are considered.

The Princplie treats each situtional as an unquie case and should not be compared.

the theory is straight forward and is based on the single principle of minimsing pain and maximising pleasure and happiness. It a system aiming to create a happier life for both individual and groups.

The consequentialism is a strength as it is only natural for us to weight the consequences.

It relates to actions whihc can be observed in the real world. (e.g. giving to a charity to promtoe happiness for the poor people and cruelty being condemmed as bad.).

With the theory accepting the universal principle, it is essential for any ethical system as it is important to go beyond your own personal point of view. 

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Weakness of Theory

Governing princlipe say that only the consequences is the most important thing.

Practical appoach of the theroy requires the human being have the ability to see into the future when looking for what the consequences would be. But what we believe to happen is not guarantee to happen and may not repeat itself.

The theory gives no credit to a person good intend because not every act is done out of goodwill which result in good consequences.

You can not use the theory to determine what really is universally good. Bentham allows acts of torture to be carried out if it creates the greatest amount of pleasure to greatest number of people.

We can not assume that the majority is always right as there should be room for both the majority and minority.

The princilpe is to simpllistic as just one principle to make all our decision on.We can not solve all sitution by one princllipe as each situition is unquie.

Values like Justice has no place in this theory because majority may not support the just.

It is responsiblity of God not man to bring about teh best outcomes.

Theroy allows no personal realtionship eg man wife in the fire why would he not save her first and others afterwards.

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Hope it some use to you

dave webb

need moe strengths   have u got any more strengths?


I hope the extra strengths are enough for you Dave and thank you for helping improve the cards. Hope they help you even more.

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