Explain both the general principles of Utilitarianism and the distinctive features of Mill’s Utilitarianism.
The specified general features are: the greatest happiness principle, consequential or teleological thinking in contrast to deontological thinking.These may be conflated in a candidate’s answer.
Greatest happiness principle: The principle that an action is right if it results in the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Students may explain the idea that happiness is the ‘sovereign good’ for Bentham. A consequential / teleological form of moral decision making: the outcome of the action makes it right or wrong. A right action is the one that generates the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. In act utilitarianism, no action is intrinsically right or wrong, all actions are a means to an end – so this contrasts with deontological thinking. Bentham claims that the happiness generated can be measured using the hedonic calculus.
Mill’s utilitarianism distinguishes between higher and lower pleasures and Mill is associated with Rule Utilitarianism. Lower pleasures (e.g. drinking alcohol) may have to be sacrificed in…