Utilitarianism Explored<br />Aims<br />To outline the historical and social context of utilitarianism.<br />To begin to explore the intricacies of utilitarianism vis-à-vis its broader aim.<br />
Recap<br />“You ought to do that which produces the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.”<br />Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832)<br />“The greatest happiness principle”<br />
Utilitarianism<br />Comes under the broader ethical theory of…<br />Consequentialism<br />Also referred to as a teleological theory which understands the rightness and wrongness of an action by looking at the consequences of the action. (Greek word “telos” means end.)<br />
Jeremy Bentham<br />John Stuart Mill<br />Both were deemed to be democratic, progressive, empiricist and optimistic.<br />
Jeremy Bentham<br />Bentham can be called a hedonist.<br />For Bentham, there is no difference between pleasure and happiness; both refer to a psychic state of satisfaction.<br />Bentham argued that human beings are motivated by pleasure and, thus, a decrease of pain.<br />To determine which actions lead to the most pleasure and the least pain, Bentham devised the ‘hedonic calculus’.<br />This is a quantitative principle: duration, intensity, remoteness, certainty, purity, richness and extent.<br />
J. S. Mill<br />Mill agreed with Bentham in emphasising that a persons’ well being is of the utmost importance.<br />Mill agreed with the utility principle but had an issue with the quantitative element.<br />Mill developed a system of higher and lower pleasures.<br />To pursue pleasures of the intellect were ‘higher’ than, say, the pursuits if pleasures of the body.<br />
Intricacies…<br />Act Utilitarianism<br /><ul><li>A good action is one that leads to the greatest happiness in any given situation.
Act utilitarian are flexible; they take into account individual situations.</li></ul>Rule Utilitarianism<br /><ul><li>The principle of utility is applied to a rule.
The rule will hold if, in general, following it leads to greater happiness. Otherwise, it is unjustifiable.</li></li></ul><li>Homework<br /> Read Philip Pettit’s “Consequentialism”.<br /> Read it carefully as it is a difficult article. <br /> For Monday 3rd of November, write a summary of the two sections: “The main argument against consequentialism” (p.234 - 237) and “The main argument for consequentialism” (p237-239).<br />