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Flashcards in Utilitarianism Deck (19)
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Act Utilitarianism

Looks at the consequences of each individual act and calculates utility each time the act is performed


Rule Utilitarianism

Looks at the consequences of having everyone follow a particular rule and calculates the overall utility of accepting or rejecting the rule


Teleological ethics

Concerned with whether something is right or wrong depends on the result or end pf that action



Preference Utilitarianism

Entails promoting actions that fulfil the interests of those involved


Principle of utility

The idea that the choice that brings about the greatest good for the greatest number is the right choice



Someone who lives for the pursuit of pleasure and elieveate suffering



The amount of happiness and pleasure and the amount of pain

Jeremy Bentham



Focused on the quality

JS Mill


All human beings are governed by 2 sovereign masters

Pain and pleasure



The right thing to do and the just thing to do is to maximise the balance of pleasure over pain and happiness over suffering


Bentham's hedonic calculus

- Purity (accompanied by pain-painless)
- Richness (lone pleasure-brings many joys)
- Remoteness (distant-immediate)
- Intensity (mild-intense)
- Certainty (unlikely-probable)
-Extent (affects just one person-affects lots of people)
- Duration (brief-lasting)


Bernard Williams

Utilitarianism is attractive for 4 reasons
- Does not require a religious belief, so it fits world and many cultures
- Basic good, happiness, well-being or preference is reasonable = who doesn't want to be happy
- suggests moral problems can be solved through a reasonable process rather than a religious theory
- Offers common currency of moral thought that seems straight forward to apply



- Relies on guesses about the future and predictions about what the greatest good in the long term would be
- Offers no reason to prohibit any action (some actions can never be justified eg child torture and rape)
- Unfairness towards minorities
- Horrendous acts
- Can you measure good or pleasure


Bentham strengths

- Maximises happiness = a happier society (quantitive)
- 1 persons happiness is equal to another's
- Based on 1 principle and aim
- Useful among different religions and cultures
- Pleasure over pain


Bentham weaknesses

- Doesn't take into account breaking rules and actions
- Ideas of pain and pleasure differ for each person
- Not all pleasure is morally good
- Doesn't take into account emotional decisions (family)
- Not helpful for minority groups


Mill strengths

- Theory is qualitative
- Pleasure over pain


Mill weaknesses

- No help for minority groups
- Think we can predict the future (we don't think about after immediate outcome)


RM Hare
(Preference utilitarianism)

- We should treat everyone and ourselves with impartiality
- With moral decisions we need to consider our own preferences as well as others = 'equal preferences count equally, whatever their content'
- We should be able to do what is best for us as long as it doesn't conflict with the preferences of others


Peter Singer

- Best possible consequences = best interests of individuals involved
- Not considering what increases pleasure and diminishes pain
- Equal consideration of preferences or interests act like a pair of scales = everyones preferences are weighed equally