By the end of today‟s lesson you will have: Recapped/ revised the key elements of utilitarianism V
Utilitarianism Teleological theory, it only looks at consequences. Utilitarianism states that an action is right if it produces the greatest good (happiness) for the greatest number.
Act-utilitarianism: Looksat the consequences of aparticular ACT-ifgreatest happiness forgreatest number that actis RIGHT.
Bentham Act utilitarian Quantity of happiness Social reform e.g. Prison reform Hedonic Calculus
Nature has placedBentham mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as determine what we shall do
Mill Rule utilitarian Quality of happiness “Better Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied; better a man dissatisfied than a pig satisfied” Harm principle
Mill Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Rule UtilitarianismRule-utilitarianism: Decide on rules, which are likely to lead to consequences of pleasure for greatest number. LIE
STRONG Vs WEAK Rule- utilitarianismWeak rule utilitarians (e.g. Mill) are prepared to break the „rules‟ V
Wedo not always choose the higher pleasure (of the mind) over the lower pleasure (of the body.) E.g. you may cheat on the husband, whom you love, for a handsome lover. Mill said that having a noble character leads to the world‟s greater happiness. But this only works if people become noble.
Preference utilitarianism Define the best consequences in terms of preference Which outcome do I prefer? What it is the best interests of all parties?
Singer: preference utilitarianism Singer argues that it is preferences rather than human life that we ought to value. Therefore animals fall within our moral obligations since certain animals show preferences e.g. to be with others of same species and to avoid pain. It also means that killing a person who wanted to be killed could be seen as a morally right action.
An action contrary tothe preference of any being is, unless this preference is outweighed bycontrary preferences wrong.
Negative utilitarianism To prevent the greatest amount of suffering for the greatest number E.g. a starving community would benefit more from a reduction in its suffering, by means of food and medical care, than being sent DVDs
Advantages of utilitarianism It is easy to demonstrate that Utilitarianism is fair, since its basic principles are widely accepted.
Advantages of utilitarianism It does not appear to require any prior beliefs about the nature of the world or religion, and can be appreciated across different religions and cultures.
Advantages of utilitarianism Utilitarianism is the moral side of democracy. E.g. it is the basis for the NHS: care is provided to improve the health of the population and if more money is spent on the health service, people are healthier and therefore happier.
Advantages of utilitarianism It relates to actions which can be observed in the real world e.g. giving to charity promotes happiness for poor people and is seen to be good, whereas an act of cruelty is condemned as bad.
Advantages of utilitarianism Its consequentialism is also a strength as when we act it is only natural to weigh up the consequences.
Advantages of utilitarianism Preference Utilitarianism also gives us the valuable principle of „standing in someone else‟s shoes‟ (Hare). It is important to think about others‟ interests or preferences as long as one also includes behaving justly.
Disadvantages of utilitarianism Can‟t predict future (e.g. Doctor saving woman in childbirth and saying, “You‟ll be alright now, Mrs. Hitler”)
Disadvantages of utilitarianism Special responsibilities (e.g. save drowning father or scientist with cure for cancer)
Disadvantages of utilitarianism Justice e.g. utilitarian judge could sentence an innocent person to death if it would restore law and order
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