Explain Utilitarianism Essay

September 2, 2017 Media

Utilitarianism was developed in the eighteenth century by Hutcheson. who used the phrase ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’ to depict his theory. Hutcheson’s thought. seeks to happen a rational agency of measuring how best to set this publicity of felicity into pattern. It is split into two types ; Act Utilitarianism. this is the earliest signifier in which what is deemed right is based on the appraisal of consequences of a peculiar action. and Rule Utilitarianism which allows to be taken into history the general benefit to society that occurs when people follow general regulations.

It is argued that utilitarianism is a relativist. consequentialist and teleological system of moralss. ordering no fixed moral regulations and judging an action by its effects or terminal consequences. Bentham and Mill each argued severally for these types of Utilitarianism and therefore their beliefs differ. Bentham was born in London at clip of immense scientific and societal alteration. He looked to bring forth a modernized attack to morality which would accommodate the altering society of the industrial age he grew up in. This was besides the epoch of the Gallic and American revolutions.

He argued that worlds were motivated by pleasance and hurting “nature has placed mankind under the administration of two autonomous Masterss. pleasance and pain” . This later on became known as Act Utilitarianism. Bentham believed that everyone had an equal right to happiness irrespective of their state of affairs or position in life and argued that everyone counted every bit in the appraisal of the benefits of an action. He believed that overall. this would profit the person who did so and this would take to that individuals greatest felicity every bit good.

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His theory is democratic as pleasance can non be for one individual entirely. Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus this is what Bentham thought was an empirical procedure for doing moral determinations. it weighs up the hurting and pleasance generated by the available moral actions to happen the best option. It asks you to see seven points: 1. Purity ( an act that causes merely pleasance is better than one that causes the same sum of pleasance mixed with a small hurting. When either pleasance or hurting is at its extremes it is more pure nevertheless when assorted it’s pureness is less. ) 2.

Remoteness ( the more distant the benefits. in either infinite or clip. the less weight we should give them in doing our determination. For illustration how long will it take for the pleasance of the action to take effect. ) 3. Intensity ( the less intense the pleasance of an action the less valuable that action is. However. if the action leads to intense pleasance so its value goes manner up. ) 4. Certainty ( the certainty standard refers to the chance of the pleasance ensuing from the act. So fundamentally how likely a certain action will do a cause a certain action.

If you have to take between an action which might do pleasance and 1 that will definately do the disired pealsure so you go with that action. ) 5. Extent ( The more people enjoy the pleasance. the better. This was non among the original standards described by Bentham. but was added by John Stuart Mill. ) 6. Duration ( the continuance of the pleasance caused by an act must besides be taken into history when measuring the goodness of the act. Short explosions of pleasance or short permanent pleasance is viewed as less valuable than permanent pleasance.

So acts which last for long periods of clip are preferred to those which are short lasting. ) 7. Consequence ( The effect of an act is the likeliness that the pleasances or strivings that it causes will be followed by similar pleasances or strivings. If the felicity that an act causes is likely to be followed by more felicity. so that act is better than a similar act that will do merely one case of felicity. It is fundamentally how many times the hurting or pleasance will occur. )

For illustration if five guards were basking tormenting one captive the hedonistic concretion would propose that this is all right because more pleasance is happening than hurting. If the likely hurting of an action outweighs its pleasance so Bentham says that it is morally incorrect. He believed this was the manner of ciphering felicity as a consequence of the class of an action and by this he was doing the footing of make up one’s minding whether an action should be considered right or incorrect. However traveling back to the guard’s illustration. is crushing up a captive morally right because more people are basking it than experiencing hurting from it?

During the nineteenth century Mill changed Bentham’s theory. Bentham implied any pleasance is of equal value “pushpin is equal to poetry” whereas Mill saw pleasances as higher and lower. He recognised that it was easier to settle for the more immediate and animal pleasances like feeding or imbibing instead than the nobler and possibly more refined 1s such as poesy or opera. Mill criticised Bentham for concentrating morality on pleasance entirely. which seemed instead base to him. Therefore he decided to present a theory of utilitarianism for everyone. this replaced pleasance with felicity.

He believed in quality non measure of felicity. For Mill. felicity was defined as something which is cultured and religious than merely physical. He distinguished this as higher and lower pleasances. He wrote “it is better to be a human being dissatisfied. than a hog satisfied” Mill recognised that there were different ways of measuring the value of felicity. Mill unlike Bentham suggested a positive topographic point for regulations within an overall utilitarianist attack. Another difference between Bentham and Mill lies in the difference between Act and Rule theories of utilitarianism.

Bentham thought each single action should be treated individually without any regulations to steer the person ; whereas Mill proposed that you should do regulations based on the effects which tend to follow certain actions. For illustration killing person tends to do hurting. so we should hold a regulation against killing people. Therefore Mill and Bentham arrived to two really different attacks of morality. Mills mentality was really different to that of Bentham’s. Overall. nevertheless their failings outweigh their strengths.

They are non really convincing as ethical systems. and it is my sentiment that some other attack to moralss is required in order to make the morally right thing. An advantage of Bentham’s Act Utilitarianism is that it considers the effects and felicity which consequence from actions ; this seems a reasonable attack to moralss. The theory is besides flexible and easy to use ; it does non depict many confounding or hard regulations and provides a simple method for determination devising. The theory besides enables hard determination doing through its relativism.

For illustration it would let us to give persons if it is of great benefit to society. The job with Bentham’s theory nevertheless is that it is genuinely relativistic. so any imaginable action could be allowed for illustration. killing captives because five guards get pleasance from it. It besides justifies the agony of the guiltless under a bulk. It farther allows cruel or sadistic pleasance. since Bentham regarded all pleasance as equal. this was first idea of by a philosopher called Bernard Williams. Mill’s theory offers many advantages which get around the jobs of Bentham and Act Utilitarianism.

By separating between the quality of pleasances. Mill regulations out the possibility of sadism like in the instance of the prison guards basking tormenting a captive. Besides. Mill is saying that certain actions are explicitly prohibited because they tend to advance hurting. So. he would non let killing. no affair how much it was enjoyed. However. Mill’s theory lacks the flexibleness of Bentham’s. which means that reasonable regulation breakage is no longer possible. For illustration you could non state little prevarications. even to protect others.

There is another failing in Mill’s thought of different qualities of pleasance this is. how can we judge what makes pleasance higher or lower? As certainly this is a subjective affair. as sentiments and penchants vary from individual to individual. It might besides be argued that the construct of a competent justice is obscure. since it is non clear whether we can truly place one. In decision. the theories put frontward by Bentham and Mill fail to supply a convincing or utile attack to moralss. On the one manus. Bentham’s positions are strikingly relativistic. leting any pleasance.

On the other manus. Mill’s Rule system lacks the flexibleness to do reasonable picks in hard state of affairss. It may be that some other and more modern version of the theory can get the better of these jobs. such as penchant utilitarianism put frontward by Peter Singer. Preference utilitarianism bases itself on the thought used in act utilitarianism. that the rule of public-service corporation is the most of import footing of moral determination devising. This rule is about maximizing pleasance and forestalling hurting. Preference utilitarianism retains this but merely modifies it to be subjective. that peoples penchants should be maximised non pleasance over hurting.

This is a simple manner to be personal. leting everyone their ain say instead than assuming pleasance is ever desirable. For illustration eating 30 bars of cocoa when obese may non do pleasance as it is declining their fleshiness nevertheless it is the individuals penchant to make this. If we could strike a balance between favoring steadfast moral rules and paying attending to important effects or the all-around well-being of society. Such a via media offers a more promising attack to moralss than the classical signifiers of Utilitarianism put frontward by Mill and Bentham.


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