Rule Utilitarianism

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  • Created by: bnaomi
  • Created on: 03-05-16 16:07
What is Rule Utilitarianism?
A version of Utilitarianism which focuses on the quality of happiness and general rules that society should follow so they may produce greatest good for people.
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Who Came up with Rule Utilitarianism?
John Stuart Mill
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Why did Mill come up with Rule Utilitarianism?
He saw lots of problems with Act Utilitarianism and recognised 1) happiness in itself is a complex thing & 2) different people were happy as a result for different things
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Therefore the rightness and wrongness of an action depends on what?
Actions are right or wrong depending on whether to conform to a happiness making rule, instead of individual effects
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Mill introduces Rule with what famous quote? Where is this quote from?
"It is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied". From his book Utilitarianism (1861)
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What does this quote mean?
No reasonably person would want to be a dog or a pig and give up their human pleasures (i.e. reading) just for the sake of having less responsibilities or you'd simply be a fool who doesn't like to take on tricky tasks or responsibilities.
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This quote can be linked to what topic of Rule Utilitarianism? How does the quote and the topic link?
Higher & Lower pleasures. They're linked because it's better to experience higher pleasures than lower pleasures. E.g humans have much higher pleasures than a pig so they're harder to satisfy, whilst a only experience lower pleasures.
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What is the difference higher and lower pleasure?
Higher pleasures are those that stimulate the mind (e.g. reading, music, art, learning) Lower pleasures stimulate the body (e.g. eating drinking sex)
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What did Mill believe a persons primary moral concern should be?
After basic human requirements were fulfilled a person's moral concern should be to seek the highest pleasure in life.
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Therefore what did he thought the problem was with society
People were not educated in the higher pleasures of life, and the only way to improve society was to educate the lower class in how to seek higher pleasures
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What is the Harm Principle?
It is one of the responses to a problem of Bentham's Utilitarianism (which was too quantitative) by which it aims to answer the questions of how much pressure the majority are allowed to put on the minority
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Name the four exceptions of the Harm Principle
1) The majority can only pressure the minority if it prevents harm (hence why it's called the 'harm' principle. 2) Not all pleasures are equal 3) Pleasures of the mind are superior, physical pleasures. 4) The pleasure quote.
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If you believe in the harm principle, what does this mean for the majority?
This simply means, you as the majority would only get involved in ethical decision if the well-being of many were at risk.
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This makes Rule Utilitarianism a what theory?
A Qualitative theory.
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Why is Rule a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ theory?
It focuses on the quality of individual decisions/actions. The harm principle helps improve the quality of individual actions
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Name an example in which the harm principle is applied?
The Falkland War (Margaret Thatcher fought back against the Argentinians over the British owned Falkland Island)
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How does is this example linked to the harm principle?
Although more people died or were injured than those who lived there to begin with; the greater principle was at stake! Without the war, it would've led to an open invitation for invaders to invade any British land, and could've cost even more lives.
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What is Strong Rule Utilitarianism?
Strong rule utilitarians always follow secondary principle set no matter what the outcome may be. They are rigid and inflexible
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What is Weak Rule Utilitarianism?
Weak rule utilitarians think that some secondary rules can be broken if it leads to the greater good in exceptional circumstances. E.g. A man being chased runs inside your shop and the chaser comes in and asks you of the mans whereabouts, you'd lie.
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Name one difference between Act and Rule Utilitarianism
Mill said happiness is much to complex and indefinite to be measures of moral worth, which is what Bentham tried to do with his hedonic calculus.
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How is true happiness achieved in Rule Utilitarianism
The trial and error throughout human history has lead us to know what leads to happiness and what doesn't and in that in the long run if people followed secondary principles worked our from history: do not lie, happiness would result.
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How is this different from Act Utilitarianism?
Bentham thought what we understand to be pleasurable or good is what leads to happiness, & what we though was bad, leads to pain; this helps us decide what's moral, whilst Mill on the other hand thought trial and error helps lead to happiness.
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What are 3 positives to Rule Utilitarianism?
1) Mill focused on both qualitative and quantitative aspects to the theory unlike Bentham who concerns are more with the majority. 2) Overcomes some difficulties of Act using the harm principle.
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What are 3 negatives to Rule Utilitarianism
1) Sometimes the minorities interest are not yet considered, such as slavery 2) Following the rules Mill offer, it may lead to some negative results, (people experience different types of pleasures) 3) More things to life than pleasure, (Justice!)
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Who Came up with Rule Utilitarianism?


John Stuart Mill

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Why did Mill come up with Rule Utilitarianism?


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Therefore the rightness and wrongness of an action depends on what?


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Mill introduces Rule with what famous quote? Where is this quote from?


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