Utilitarianism: Examine the key strengths as a means of resolving moral dilemmas

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  1. Examine the strengths of Utilitarianism as a means of resolving moral dilemmas (21 Marks)

Utilitarianism is a teleological theory as it aims to bring about a greater good, the theory views at what the ethical action is aimed at bringing about as appose to deontological theory which focuses on the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of actions. Utilitarianism is also a relative theory, meaning the goodness of an action is dependent on the circumstances because there are no fixed moral principles. The belief that actions are always corrects if they are useful or benefit the majority of a group. It is the belief that any action is accurate if it promotes happiness for the greatest happiness of the greatest number, this should be followed when guiding the principle of handling. Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher, while also being the founder of the school of philosophy named Epicureanism. Epicurus lived between 341 BC – 270 BC and was regarded as the foremost figure in the history of science as well as philosophy. Epicurus was a hedonist, meaning he was always seeking the upmost pleasures in life. He warned against overindulgence and pronounced “What is good is pleasurable and what is bad is painful” which entails that we should not attempt to escalate our pleasure beyond the point of maximum intensity.

I believe that this strength Utilitarianism links to Epicurius’ ways the most is that people often decide what is right and wrong based on maximising good consequences. Referring back to the question I believe that when in a moral dilemma, for example a pregnant woman leading a group of people out of a cave on a coast is stuck in the mouth of that cave. In a short time high tide will be upon them, and unless she is unstuck, they will all be drowned except the woman, whose head is out of the cave. Fortunately, (or unfortunately,) someone has with him a stick of dynamite. There seems no way to get the pregnant woman loose without using the dynamite which will inevitably kill her; but if they do not use it everyone will drown. In this situation I believe that Epicurius’ outlook on Utilitarianism will lead him to say that killing the pregnant woman with the stick of dynamite would be bad, therefore being painful., he says “What is good is pleasurable and what is bad is painful” As Epicurus is a hedonist and always wants to seek the upmost pleasure I would lead to believe that he would choose to kill the pregnant woman so the others could be free because this would create more pleasure from multiples of people as appose to one person radiating pleasure.

Jeremy Bentham was a politician during the industrial revolution; he was a legal reformer that wanted equality and democratic society. He also disliked the British Law and lived his life following his own laws of being a psychological hedonist. Bentham chose the life of a psychological hedonist as a result of observing


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