Chapter Seven:
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a universal teleological system
It calls for the maximization of goodness ...
Two Types of Ethical Systems
Deontology:

From the Greek word deon
meaning “duty” and logos meaning “logic”. The
center o...
Classic Utilitarianism
Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy

Bentham (1748-1832)
He invented a scheme for measuring pain and
pleasure t...
Two Main Features of
Utilitarianism
The consequentialist principle : the rightness or

wrongness of an act is determined ...
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Mill wanted to distinguish happiness from

mere pleasure.
Eudaimonistic u...
Act- and Rule-Utilitarianism
Act-utilitarianism:

An act is right if and only if
it results in as much good as any availa...
The Strengths of Utilitarianism
A single principle, an absolute system with a

potential answer for every situation.
It ...
Criticism of Utilitarianism
Problems with Formulating
Utilitarianism
How do you

measure the term “greatest”?
The greate...
The Comparative Consequences
Objection
We normally

do not know the long term
consequences of all of our actions.
Conseq...
Two kinds of Consequences
1) Actual consequences of an act
2) Consequences that could reasonably have
been expected to occ...
Two Corresponding
Right Actions
1) Absolutely right if it has the best actual
consequences
(as per consequence 1)
2) Objec...
The Consistency Objection to
Rule-Utilitarianism
When pushed to its logical limits, it must either
become a deontological ...
The No-Rest Objection
We always have an infinite set of possible acts to
choose from, and even if I can be excused
from co...
The Publicity Objection
Moral principles must be known to all, but
utilitarians do not claim everyone should act
like a ut...
The Relativism Objection
It seems to endorse different rules in different
societies
Also, the more serious worry is that i...
Criticism of the Ends Justifying
Immoral Means
1) If a moral theory justifies actions that we
universally deem impermissib...
The Lying Objection
It leads to the counterintuitive endorsement of
lying when it serves the greater good
The Integrity Objection
Personal integrity can be violated by
commanding that we violate our most central
and deeply held ...
The Justice Objection
Utilitarians could consider actions that go
against standards of justice that most of us
think shoul...
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1111298173 282415 7

  1. 1. Chapter Seven: Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a universal teleological system It calls for the maximization of goodness in society - that is, the greatest amount of goodness for the greatest number of peopleand not merely the good of the agent
  2. 2. Two Types of Ethical Systems Deontology: From the Greek word deon meaning “duty” and logos meaning “logic”. The center of value is the act or kind of act; certain features in the act itself have intrinsic value. Teleological ethics: From the Greek word telos meaning “goal directed”. The center of value is the outcome or consequences of the act.
  3. 3. Classic Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) He invented a scheme for measuring pain and pleasure that he called the hedonic calculus. According to Bentham, one should maximize pleasure and minimize suffering.
  4. 4. Two Main Features of Utilitarianism The consequentialist principle : the rightness or wrongness of an act is determined by the goodness or badness of the results that flow from it The utility or hedonist principle : the only thing that is good in itself is some specific type of state (ie. pleasure, happiness, welfare)
  5. 5. John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) Mill wanted to distinguish happiness from mere pleasure. Eudaimonistic utilitarianism He defines happiness in terms of a higher order of pleasures or satisfactions. Higher or more refined pleasure are superior to lower pleasures.
  6. 6. Act- and Rule-Utilitarianism Act-utilitarianism: An act is right if and only if it results in as much good as any available alternative. Rule-utilitarianism: An act is right if it is required by a rule that is itself a member of a set of rules whose acceptance would lead to greater utility for society than any available alternative.
  7. 7. The Strengths of Utilitarianism A single principle, an absolute system with a potential answer for every situation. It seems to get at the substance of morality because it has a material core: promoting human (and possibly animal) flourishing and reduce suffering. Well-suited to address the problem of posterity
  8. 8. Criticism of Utilitarianism Problems with Formulating Utilitarianism How do you measure the term “greatest”? The greatest number of people over the greatest amount of happiness –how to define? What about those who are not in the greatest amount? Is it total or general happiness?
  9. 9. The Comparative Consequences Objection We normally do not know the long term consequences of all of our actions. Consequences go on into the infinite future, so we really cannot know them. Calculation is impossible.
  10. 10. Two kinds of Consequences 1) Actual consequences of an act 2) Consequences that could reasonably have been expected to occur
  11. 11. Two Corresponding Right Actions 1) Absolutely right if it has the best actual consequences (as per consequence 1) 2) Objectively right if it is reasonable to expect that it will have the best consequences (as per consequence 2)
  12. 12. The Consistency Objection to Rule-Utilitarianism When pushed to its logical limits, it must either become a deontological system or transform itself into act-utilitarianism
  13. 13. The No-Rest Objection We always have an infinite set of possible acts to choose from, and even if I can be excused from considering all of them, I can be fairly sure that there is often a preferable act that I could be doing.
  14. 14. The Publicity Objection Moral principles must be known to all, but utilitarians do not claim everyone should act like a utilitarian.
  15. 15. The Relativism Objection It seems to endorse different rules in different societies Also, the more serious worry is that it might become so plastic that it justifies any moral rule.
  16. 16. Criticism of the Ends Justifying Immoral Means 1) If a moral theory justifies actions that we universally deem impermissible, then that moral theory must be rejected 2) Utilitarianism justifies actions that we universally deem impermissible 3) Therefore, utilitarianism must be rejected
  17. 17. The Lying Objection It leads to the counterintuitive endorsement of lying when it serves the greater good
  18. 18. The Integrity Objection Personal integrity can be violated by commanding that we violate our most central and deeply held principles
  19. 19. The Justice Objection Utilitarians could consider actions that go against standards of justice that most of us think should never be dispensed with

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