Utilitarianism theory summary

But consequences are not what make the act right, as is the case with utilitarianism. Thus we learn to enjoy doing virtuous acts.

He suggests that many of the problems arise under the traditional formulation because the conscientious utilitarian ends up having to make up for the failings of others and so contributing more than their fair share.

But on Bentham's view the action or trait is morally good, right, virtuous in view of the consequences it generates, the pleasure or utility it produces, which could be completely independent of what our responses are to the trait.

Another response might be that the riots the sheriff is trying to avoid might have positive utility in the long run by drawing attention to questions of race and resources to help address tensions between the communities.

The impact of Bentham's ideas goes further still. His view of the good did radically depart from Bentham's view. Few could stand by and watch a child drown; many can ignore the avoidable deaths of children in Africa or India.

Goodness is correlated with truth and beauty on physical, intellectual, and spiritual levels. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, quality is considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone.

Law is, Bentham recognized, necessary to social order and good laws are clearly essential to good government. However, the critical moral thinking underpins and informs the more intuitive moral thinking. Indeed, reflection on what was morally problematic about laws and policies influenced his thinking on utility as a standard.

The History of Utilitarianism

If one compared an empty universe with a universe of sadists, the empty universe would strike one as better.

Kagan suggests that such a procedure might be justified on the grounds that "a general requirement to promote the good would lack the motivational underpinning necessary for genuine moral requirements" and, secondly, that personal independence is necessary for the existence of commitments and close personal relations and that "the value of such commitments yields a positive reason for preserving within moral theory at least some moral independence for the personal point of view.

R, —4 Scarre notes that some hold the moral sense approach incompatible with this emphasis on the use of reason to determine what we ought to do; there is an opposition between just apprehending what's morally significant and a model in which we need to reason to figure out what morality demands of us.

Utilitarians were disturbed that their precepts were being confused with the merely expedient behavior by which they often characterized a flourishing new generation of industrialists and entrepreneurs.

Utilitarianism Summary

It is true there are cases in which, if we confine ourselves to the effects of the first order, the good will have an incontestable preponderance over the evil. Preference utilitarianism The concept of preference utilitarianism was first proposed in by John Harsanyi in Morality and the theory of rational behaviour, [53] but preference utilitarianism is more commonly associated with R.

Bentham also suggests that individuals would reasonably seek the general happiness simply because the interests of others are inextricably bound up with their own, though he recognized that this is something that is easy for individuals to ignore. Correlative with this account of liberty, Bentham as Thomas Hobbes before him viewed law as "negative.

He was a pluralist, rather than a monist, regarding intrinsic value.

Utilitarianism Summary

The rightness or wrongness of an act or rule is, at least in part, a matter of the intrinsic moral features of that kind of act or rule.

Utility understood this way is a personal preferencein the absence of any objective measurement. The rule being that we should only be committing actions that provide pleasure to society.

Generally, utilitarians have supported democracy as a way of making the interest of government coincide with the general interest; they have argued for the greatest individual liberty compatible with an equal liberty for others on the ground that individuals are generally the best judges of their own welfare; and they have believed in the possibility and desirability of progressive social change through peaceful political processes.

Bentham says that "[l]iberty is the absence of restraint" and so, to the extent that one is not hindered by others, one has liberty and is "free.

When we see an act that is vicious we disapprove of it. It is a completely secular, forward-looking question. Bentham does not recommend that they figure into every act of moral deliberation because of the efficiency costs which need to be considered.

A person's relations with others—even if important—are not essential and describe nothing that is, strictly speaking, necessary to its being what it is.

Ray Briggs writes in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: John Stuart Mill, London: Bentham's motto was, "Each to count for one and none for more than one. Utilitarianism with Bentham and Mill is a eudaimonistic theory of morality: For this and other reasons, many thinkers have advocated a second type of moral theory, deontological ethics.

To this end, Mill's hedonism was influenced by perfectionist intuitions.

Ethics Theories: Utilitarianism Vs. Deontological Ethics

It is wiser to require just a slight preference on the altruistic urge. This left him open to a variety of criticisms.

He felt that people often had responses to certain actions — of pleasure or disgust — that did not reflect anything morally significant at all. His most important theoretical work is the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislationin which much of his moral theory—which he said reflected "the greatest happiness principle"—is described and developed.

Criticisms[ edit ] Because utilitarianism is not a single theory but a cluster of related theories that have been developed over two hundred years, criticisms can be made for different reasons and have different targets.

Jeremy Bentham (1748—1832)

Deontological Ethics There are two major ethics theories that attempt to specify and justify moral rules and principles: It is usual [35] to say that Mill is committing a number of fallacies.

James Mill, in turn, had been a companion to, and a devoted disciple of, Jeremy Bentham.Deontological Ethics There are two major ethics theories that attempt to specify and justify moral rules and principles: utilitarianism and deontological ethics. Utilitarianism (also called consequentialism) is a moral theory developed and refined in the modern world in the writings of Jeremy Bentham () and John Stuart Mill ().

One of the geniuses of the modern era, John Stuart Mill coined the term “utilitarianism,” the subject of this brief, five-part essay.


By doing so. Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics, or the ethics that define the morality of actions, as proposed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. It is defined by utility, the existence of. Summary. Mill continues to refine some of the issues that arise as a result of the stratification of types of pleasure, then addresses more general objections to the fundamentals of utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics, or the ethics that define the morality of actions, as proposed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. It. Summary of Utilitarianism “ the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” Summary of Plato's Theory of Human Nature Summary of Aristotle's Theory of Human Nature Aristotle on the Good Life Summary of Bill Joy's.

Utilitarianism theory summary
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