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Flashcards in Utilitarianism Deck (24)
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what is ethical behaviour

behaviour according to virtuous behaviour


what is morality

actions are right or wrong rather than the character of the person performing them


normative ethics

asking what things are good and what are bad, what is right or wrong. "is sex before marriage wrong'


descriptive ethics

describes and compares ways societies answer a moral question 'what do muslim and christian tradition teach about sex before marriage'



'philosophical ethics' what do we mean when we say good, bed, right, wrong 'what does it mean when you say sex before marriage is wrong'


what are the two branches of normative ethics

teleological and deontological



end consequence of an action, rightness or wrongness of an action is judged by its outcome



important thing is action, not result. concerned with nature of the action as acts are intrinsically right or wrong.



> consequence of actions
>Jeremy Bentham
>'greatest happiness for greatest number'
1) views on good and bad and what drives humans
2) principle of utility
3) hedonic calculus


what is the principle of utility

and action is right if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number


What is the Hedonic calculus

weighs up pleasure and pain
1] its intensity
2] its duration
3] its certainty and uncertainty
4] its propinquity or remoteness
5] its fecundity- chance of being followed by more pleasure or more pain
6] it purity- chance or being followed by sensations of the following kind
7] its extent- how many does it effect


in what ways is utilitarianism compatible with religious approaches

> idea of sacrifice
> buddist ideal of avoiding suffering
> conscience


in what ways is utilitarianism uncompatible with religious approaches

> moral codes (10 commandments) can be broken
> were we born to suffer?
> sanctity of life overlooked


Act utilitarianism

> only thing that matters is the amount of happiness or unhappiness caused
>no-ones happiness is more important than others
> Benthams approach (is similar to this)


criticisms of Act utilitarianism

> justify any act
> impractical to judge every time
>Extreme results - woman going to cinema
> Special responsibility- dad and cancer specialist in crash
> justice- innocent to jail as deterrent
> some pain is good, some pleasure is bad- sadistic guard
> hard to meet all 7 point of calculus


positives of Act Utilitarianism

> happiness is promoted
> majority are happy
> assess all areas
> makes you think
> flexible


Rule Utilitarianism

>John Stuart Mill- believed in higher and lower pleasures., differed between qualitative and quantitative
> higher qualitative pleasure preferred over lower quantitative
> the pursuit of bodily pleasures is not a high pleasure
> rules are made to achieve higher pleasures; acts are judged to right or wrong by reference to these rules; so universal welfare is established -> actions are right is they follow the rule.


criticisms of Rule utilitarianism

> different people consider different things higher and lower pleasures
> different values in life
> applies to wealthy
> is it too complex?
>effects minorities- slavery acceptable as long as they are minority
>selfish- basing your own higher pleasures over basic needs


positives of rule utilitarianism

> overcomes problems from Act Utilitarianism- woman to cinema


preference utilitarianism

a utilitarian theory interested in the best consequence for those involved rather than what creates pleasure and pain
> Peter Singer


how worthwhile is the pursuit of happiness and is that all people desire? worthwhile-

> happiness is intrinsically good
> achieving greatest happiness for greatest good is useful
> pursuing happiness makes your perform better
> instinctual?
> if it is a group pleasure rather than selfish aim
> good for mental well-being
> purpose in life


how worthwhile is the pursuit of happiness and is that all people desire? not worthwhile-

> doesn't guarantee a good outcome
> can be achieved through evil means
> what you perceive as happiness might not be it when you find it
> our happiness might cause others misery
> 'no pain, no gain'
> have to receive pain to appreciate pleasure
> will we ever be truly happy?
> material pleasure change and end


Which is more important pain or pleasure? ending pain and suffering or increasing pleasure? ending pain and suffering-

> outcome more pleasurable
> better to end all suffering so more people enjoy pleasure
> quality of pleasure may be poor or lower so not worth pursuing
> increase of pleasure could mean increase in pain for others
> ending suffering is kinder
> type of pain


Which is more important pain or pleasure? ending pain and suffering or increasing pleasure? increasing pleasure-

> need pain to appreciate pleasure
> never going to please everyone so make majority happy
> sometimes to achieve good some have to suffer
> if pain is minimal pleasure is more important
> pleasure for many is better than none