Bentham and Mill - Utilitarianism

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the greatest good for the greatest number

(or in Latin, "theory of usefulness" root of utilis)

Whatever is useful is moral. Teleological argument.

(e.g. a garden spade or a fork are moral implements because they're useful)

> Immoral decisions lead to useless/bad actions

> Amoral decisions lead to no actions.


the act itself is neither good nor bad, moral nor immoral.

If abortion is used to save the mother's life and the husband is unemployed with a large family, then it is justified due to Utilitarianism.

The greatest happiness (the family) counts over and above the future possible happiness of the single unborn child. If abortion is used by a young married woman because the pregnancy interrupts a skiing trip then it is hard to justify.

Singer's Practical Ethics (1993):

A minor interest (skiing trip) is placed above a major interest (human life) then abortion is stated as immoral.

This can also be linked with the majority rule in democratic politics.

David Hume: he was the first person to introduce the concept of utility.

Jeremy Bentham:

The greatest sum of pleasure and the least sum of pain is the moral decision. Here, the application of the "utility calculus/ hedonic calculus" is how it should be measures. Happiness = PLEASURE - PAIN. Quantitative pleasure was important, quality not so important.

Hedone = pleasure.

Utility calculus:

Intensity, Duration, Certainty, Extent, Remoteness, Richness, Purity.

e.g. who do you help? Driving to help a young mum give birth but needs a c-section but there is a car accident and both drivers are unconscious, old man, young mother's husband. Without immediate help,


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