How to Know What Is Good ORHow to Know What Is Good OR
Moral PhilosophyMoral Philosophy
A philosopher and legal
First founder of
A theory of how we
the measure of the
Mentor to John Stuart
Measure happiness & painMeasure happiness & pain
The only component
of happiness is
Avoid pain and
Is it possible?
What produces the
greatest amount of
A Good Choice produces theA Good Choice produces the
greatest good (pleasure) for thegreatest good (pleasure) for the
greatest number of people.greatest number of people.
Utilitarianism is the moral philosophy
often called CONSEQUENTIALISM because
it focuses on the consequences of actions.
“Utility” can be interpreted in several
ways but it doesn`t actually mean useful,
- well being
Bentham uses Hedonism ofBentham uses Hedonism of
ancient Greeceancient Greece
Bentham’s Hedonistic Calculus
Intensity Strength of pain or
Duration How long will it last?
Certainty How likely is this to
Nearness How soon will it
Productivity Will it generate more?
Purity How much is mixed
with the other?
Extent How many will be
The good life is one filled with pleasure.
The pursuit of pleasure (especially that of
the physical senses) is a good in itself.
Different versions of hedonism...like
everything else, it exists on a continuum
Mental pleasure, psychological pleasure,
Epicurus=long term pleasures + pleasures
of the mind
John Stuart Mill 1806-1873John Stuart Mill 1806-1873
Was an ’experiment’
in child rearing by his
father James Mill &
Most famous for “On
Liberty” – basis of
and charters of
Father of Liberalism
Motto: “I am my own
John Stuart Mill 1806John Stuart Mill 1806
Was a child prodigy who read ½ of Plato at
the age of 6
He edited his father’s books at 7
Became a member of parliament and
championed women’s rights
Studied under Jeremy Bentham
Disagreed with Bentham’s hedonism
Suggested that pleasures exist on a hierarchy
(some are better than others)
More cultured than Bentham
Happy Pig or Sad SocratesHappy Pig or Sad Socrates
Mill’s famous statement that shows his ideas
of different pleasures, mental ones being at
His question, is it better to be a happy pig or
a sad Socrates expresses the idea that
rational beings have greater value than non-
rational ones, even if they are not ‘happy’
The sad Socrates has more PLEASURE than
the happy pig
Some pleasures are so valuable, that a small
amount of it makes unhappiness OK.
Which would you rather be?Which would you rather be?
Act Utilitarianism= judges acts inAct Utilitarianism= judges acts in
An action is deemed moral because it
produces the greatest happiness for the
greatest number of people.
“common moral sense” = seems good but
the danger = that this might require us to
do very bad things.
How do we get the numbers right?
Act U would sanction child slavery and
Rule Utilitarian=act + ruleRule Utilitarian=act + rule
c. Philosophers developed rule
utilitarianism to avoid moral dilemmas of
the act utilitarianism
General rule: no one should do anything
they can’t imagine asking everyone else
Strength of theory: offers alternatives to
deontology, more flexible
Weakness: doesn’t define happiness or
pleasure, rights of minorities, measuring
greatest good + number
Immanuel Kant 1724-1804Immanuel Kant 1724-1804
Deontology’s answer: ImmanuelDeontology’s answer: Immanuel
Like Aristotle & Plato, Kant believed that
the GOOD is an absolute and can be
The only thing that is good for its own
sake is a good will (intention)
Everything else that you can imagine as
good, can be qualified (altered because of
If your intentions are pure, they are
What is good? That which is consistent
with duty (higher moral principles/virtues)
AND that which is rational.
To have a good will is to act on higher
moral principles that are rational, justified
Kant is a rationalist, like Plato, Aristotle
Categorical ImperativeCategorical Imperative
So, an absolute rule that must be obeyed.
“Act only according to the maxim (rule)
whereby you can at the same time will
that it should become a universal law of
Situation x: if telling a lie is the ‘right’
moral choice, then you must agree that
everyone can lie all the time
Ends and not meansEnds and not means
Act so that you treat people as ends
(subjects with innate dignity) and not
means (objects to be used whose value is
determined by their usefulness)
Kant believed that people had to act
according to their duties (higher
principles) even when the consequences
Deontology -rootsDeontology -roots
This theory ignores consequences and
focuses on duty
Deon = Greek for duty
“ology” from logos meaning reason, word
Where would be now if not for the great
leaders of the world who brought change?
Do you think they were deontologists?
Impartial = imperative must be applied
without exception, no playing favorites
Emphasis on intent of the person which
allows you to see how they value virtues
and principles, despite a negative
Criticisms: too rigid, what about the ethics
of care (wouldn`t you lie and steal to save
a loved one’s life?)
How Do You Know WhatHow Do You Know What
is Right?is Right?
Which path to take? How to decide?
Moral intuition? Universal principals?
Means or ends?