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Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)
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Utilitarianism (OCR exam board)

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  • 1. UtilitarianismUtilitarianism RevisionRevision
  • 2. David Hume Ethics should be based on what is most Useful. To determine whether an action is right or wrong one must look at what would be most useful in that situation. Francis Hutcheson Believed happiness was most important in determining what is right or wrong. “greatest happiness for the greatest number.” Jeremy Bentham Wanted to create a system of right and wrong - benefit all society. One of the first Utilitarian view point. Most useful thing in any moral dilemma is happiness. (leads people to make right ethical decisions.) Creating the Principle of Utility = Maximize pleasure – minimize pain Neither Hume nor Hutcheson were Utilitarians, joining of the two views: usefulness and happiness that makes Utilitarianism an ethical theory. +
  • 3. ““Nature has placed mankind under the governance of twoNature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pleasure and pain. It is for themsovereign masters, pleasure and pain. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do...”alone to point out what we ought to do...” Bentham.Bentham.  Teleological (concerned with outcomes)Teleological (concerned with outcomes)  It alsoIt also HedonisticHedonistic Principle of UtilityPrinciple of Utility== Maximize pleasure – minimize painMaximize pleasure – minimize pain
  • 4. Hedonic Calculus or way to seek pleasure (pleasureHedonic Calculus or way to seek pleasure (pleasure seeker.)seeker.) Produce maximum happiness and minimum pain forProduce maximum happiness and minimum pain for maximum number of people.maximum number of people. 1.1. IntensityIntensity 2.2. Duration – how long it lastsDuration – how long it lasts 3.3. Certainty of pleasureCertainty of pleasure 4.4. Fecundity – ‘productive’ leads to other pleasuresFecundity – ‘productive’ leads to other pleasures 5.5. Propinquity – how near to pleasurePropinquity – how near to pleasure 6.6. Purity – some pleasure involve pain as well which arePurity – some pleasure involve pain as well which are not as pure as pleasures that have no pain.not as pure as pleasures that have no pain. 7.7. Extent – more people that experience it the better.Extent – more people that experience it the better.
  • 5. Act is right = more pleasure thanAct is right = more pleasure than pain or prevents painpain or prevents pain Act is wrong = more pain thanAct is wrong = more pain than pleasure or prevents pleasure.pleasure or prevents pleasure. But (part b evaluation):But (part b evaluation): WhatWhat isis happiness/ pleasure?happiness/ pleasure? IsIs allall pleasures morally good?pleasures morally good? Is all pain morally bad?Is all pain morally bad?
  • 6. John Stuart Mill ( 1806-1873) had some problems withJohn Stuart Mill ( 1806-1873) had some problems with Bentham's Utilitarian arguments:Bentham's Utilitarian arguments: 1.1. The hedonic calculus attempts toThe hedonic calculus attempts to quantifyquantify happiness, ishappiness, is this possible? Hard to apply when faced with anthis possible? Hard to apply when faced with an immediate ethical dilemma.immediate ethical dilemma. 2.2. Bentham's utilitarian argument isBentham's utilitarian argument is teleologicalteleological == accurately predicting the consequences of an action. Notaccurately predicting the consequences of an action. Not always possible.always possible. 3.3. What counts as pleasure? One person’sWhat counts as pleasure? One person’s pleasurepleasure isis another'sanother's painpain.. 4.4. Does not distinguish betweenDoes not distinguish between different sortsdifferent sorts of pleasuresof pleasures or give them a rank orderor give them a rank order 5.5. What aboutWhat about minoritiesminorities?? 6.6. The emphasis onThe emphasis on pleasurepleasure Mill saw little more thanMill saw little more than animal instinctsanimal instincts e.g. sex, food, drinke.g. sex, food, drink
  • 7. ““It is better to be a human being dissatisfiedIt is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied:than a pig satisfied: Better to be Socrates dissatisfiedBetter to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”than a fool satisfied.”
  • 8. Higher/ Lower PleasuresHigher/ Lower Pleasures  Lower Pleasures =lowest pleasures shared with animalsLower Pleasures =lowest pleasures shared with animals e.g. pigse.g. pigs  Highest pleasures = stimulate mind, only be experiencedHighest pleasures = stimulate mind, only be experienced by humans.by humans. • Mill recognised that in reality people do not always opt forMill recognised that in reality people do not always opt for the higher pleasure.the higher pleasure. • This is due to ignorance.This is due to ignorance.  A competent judge is someone who has experienced both the higher and lower pleasures.  Their role is to help to define the amount of pain/pleasure the action causes since they have experience of both.
  • 9. AltruismAltruism  Altruism (unselfishness/ love for others) was very important to Mill So he produced his Principle of Utility:So he produced his Principle of Utility: 1.1. Happiness is desirable.Happiness is desirable. 2.2. Happiness only thing desirable as an end in itself.Happiness only thing desirable as an end in itself. 3.3. General happiness of all is desirable.General happiness of all is desirable. IncreaseIncrease happiness of others increases your own.happiness of others increases your own. Also made links to Jesus’ Golden Rule: “To do as oneAlso made links to Jesus’ Golden Rule: “To do as one would be done by, and to love one’s neighbour aswould be done by, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, constitutes the ideal perfection of Utilitarianoneself, constitutes the ideal perfection of Utilitarian morality.” Millmorality.” Mill (Why is Mill linking Utilitarianism with Christianity?)(Why is Mill linking Utilitarianism with Christianity?)
  • 10. Philosophical Critics of MillPhilosophical Critics of Mill • W.D Ross ‘a single factor’ they don't account for complex lives and moral decisions – family takes precedence over reason. • Henry Sidgwick – how can we distinguish higher and lower pleasures from each other... Which higher pleasure takes priority in moral decisions?
  • 11. Comparison: BenthamComparison: Bentham MillMill • ““The greatest happinessThe greatest happiness (pleasure) for the greatest(pleasure) for the greatest number.”number.” • Focused on the individualFocused on the individual situations – Actsituations – Act • Relative ethical theory based onRelative ethical theory based on each situation.each situation. • Quantitative – Hedonic CalculusQuantitative – Hedonic Calculus (Can be seen as absolute guide(Can be seen as absolute guide to ethics)to ethics) • In search of maximisingIn search of maximising happinesshappiness • Hedonistic based on pleasureHedonistic based on pleasure • Teleological (end result) /Teleological (end result) / ConsequentialistConsequentialist (consequences)(consequences) • ““The greatest happiness for theThe greatest happiness for the greatest number.”greatest number.” • Focused on protecting commonFocused on protecting common good universally – Rulegood universally – Rule • Absolute ethical theory based onAbsolute ethical theory based on universally applied rules.universally applied rules. • Qualitative – higher / lowerQualitative – higher / lower pleasurespleasures • Teleological/ ConsequentialistTeleological/ Consequentialist
  • 12. BenthamBentham MillMill ActAct UtilitarianUtilitarian  Looks at the consequences ofLooks at the consequences of an actionan action  Apply Hedonic Calculus toApply Hedonic Calculus to every act to work out if it willevery act to work out if it will maximise pleasure minimisemaximise pleasure minimise pain.pain.  StrongStrong: Bentham following: Bentham following one principle – Principle ofone principle – Principle of Utility. Must be adhered toUtility. Must be adhered to without exception.without exception. Rule UtilitarianRule Utilitarian • General rulesGeneral rules • applied Universally acrossapplied Universally across societies to promote happinesssocieties to promote happiness • These rules should not beThese rules should not be broken as they are the basis ofbroken as they are the basis of morality.morality. • Mill was aMill was a WeakWeak RuleRule UtilitarianUtilitarian • He believed that the rulesHe believed that the rules sometimes need to be brokensometimes need to be broken inin extremeextreme situations.situations.
  • 13. Preference UtilitarianismPreference Utilitarianism R. M. Hare (1919-2002) – taught Peter SingerR. M. Hare (1919-2002) – taught Peter Singer  Need to consider our own preferences + those ofNeed to consider our own preferences + those of others.others.  Need to “Need to “stand in someone else’s shoesstand in someone else’s shoes” and” and try to imagine what someone else might prefer –try to imagine what someone else might prefer – universallyuniversally  What would I prefer in this situation?’What would I prefer in this situation?’  However, remember that it is a Utilitarian argument soHowever, remember that it is a Utilitarian argument so aims to create greatest good for greatest number so isaims to create greatest good for greatest number so is necessary to consider the preferences of others in ordernecessary to consider the preferences of others in order to achieve this.to achieve this. He says that “ equal preferences count equally, whatever their content.”
  • 14. Peter SingerPeter Singer ““Our preferences cannot count any more than the preferences ofOur preferences cannot count any more than the preferences of others” + equal valueothers” + equal value  Focus on 7Focus on 7thth stage of HC – number of people affected.stage of HC – number of people affected.  Everyone’s individual preferences must be taken into considerationEveryone’s individual preferences must be taken into consideration when deciding what was in the best interest of the group – “when deciding what was in the best interest of the group – “act asact as an impartial spectatoran impartial spectator.”.”  So in Singer’s view, killing a person who prefers to go on livingSo in Singer’s view, killing a person who prefers to go on living would be wrong and not killing a person who prefers to die wouldwould be wrong and not killing a person who prefers to die would also be wrong.also be wrong.  Singer’s approach to Utilitarianism is to minimise suffering ratherSinger’s approach to Utilitarianism is to minimise suffering rather than maximise pleasure.than maximise pleasure.  Far greater agreement about what causes pain that what givesFar greater agreement about what causes pain that what gives pleasure.pleasure.  Pleasure is more subjective to individuals than pain.Pleasure is more subjective to individuals than pain.
  • 15. Strengths and WeaknessesStrengths and Weaknesses  Helps address issue ofHelps address issue of majority justifying any actionmajority justifying any action e.g. sweat shops as it takese.g. sweat shops as it takes individual preferences intoindividual preferences into accountaccount  QualitativeQualitative  Focuses on preferences ofFocuses on preferences of others – Golden ruleothers – Golden rule  ModernModern  Pain is more universally knownPain is more universally known rather than pleasure – lessrather than pleasure – less subjectivesubjective XX Not absolute so can beNot absolute so can be misused and adapted formisused and adapted for wrong ethical actswrong ethical acts XX Might not be able toMight not be able to please everyone – thereplease everyone – there will always be anwill always be an unhappy minorityunhappy minority XX How do we know whatHow do we know what other people’sother people’s preferences arepreferences are XX Whose preferences areWhose preferences are more important?more important?

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