Act Utilitarianism


Act Utilitarianism.

Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832):

- Influenced by social conditions (wanted women's rights, better conditions for workers, etc.).

- Developed theory as a way to judge actions according to their outcome. (Was not the first to start thinking about the idea of pleasure based decision making - David Hume was one of the first, and presented an early form of utilitarianism in an essay "why utility pleases").

- Wanted to create a theory that people could use in day to day life without the guidance of a greater authority.

- Believed all different pleasures are equal, e.g. the happiness from eating chocolate is equal to the joy from getting engaged.

- Thought pleasure/happiness should be the end goal of every action.

What type of theory is it?

Teleological - decides the morality of an action according to the morality of it's end goal. This word comes from 'telos' meaning 'end' in ancient Greek.

Relative - considers an action's morality according to each unique situation, there is no intrinsic value to


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