• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of a utilitarian argument for the abolition of the death penalty

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of a utilitarian argument for the abolition of the death penalty. A different way of looking 'objectively' at morality is Utilitarianism. Both founders of Utilitarianism were child prodigies. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) could read Latin and Greek when he was five years old and graduated from Oxford at 16. J.S. Mill (1806-1873) could speak fluent Greek at the age of three and was helping his father to write economics when he was 14. Both men were radical empiricists. They thought that knowledge had to come from the senses and not just be invented by the mind. ...read more.

Middle

For Bentham, laws should be passed only if they maximize pleasure and minimize pain for the majority of people. This is how Utilitarianism works. Instead of relying on vague ideas about feelings or conscience you classify and measure any action in terms of how many units of pain or pleasure it will produce. For Utilitarians, motives are unimportant, only consequences count. The stress is on the act rather than the agent. Bentham and Mill would argue that people's motives couldn't be seen or measured, but the consequences of their actions can be. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mill also thought that most ordinary people should normally stick to traditional moral rules, rather than 'calculate' what they should do all the time. Perhaps this makes Mill a Rule Utilitarian - someone who believes that morality should still be about obeying moral rules, even if rules are decided upon Utilitarian grounds. There are typically three types of Utilitarians - Act, Rule and Preference. Act utilitarianism simply deals with the consequences of individual acts, and accepts no general rules, except that we should promote the greatest happiness. Rule utilitarianism allows respect for those rules that are established in society in order to allow the greatest happiness to the greatest number. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Analyse and explain the strengths and weaknesses of deontology

    One rather feels that Kant is not justifying the existence of such a being through his argument, but rather using God to help support his argument, which is a very different thing.

  2. Examine the key features of utilitarianism and its strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism

    Lastly, It is impractical to say that we should calculate the morality of each choice. Preference Utilitarianism believes that you should take into account the preferences of the person concerned in each case until they are outweighed by the preferences of others.

  1. Describe the main strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism

    * The refusal to acknowledge intrinsically wrong acts: a judge might convict an innocent man in order to prevent a riot that would ensue if he were not convicted - a utilitarian would argue that this is permissible because more people would be made unhappy by the lack of a

  2. What is Natural Moral Law? What are the strengths and weaknesses of NML?

    According to natural law we should fulfil or potential and use are teeth to eat both meat and vegetables - if you fail to eat meat (e.g. vegetarians) you go against natural law. Thirdly, Natural law states that there is a universal law for everyone, but is there?

  1. Explain Aquinass cosmological argument

    Similarly, nothing is the cause of itself therefore there must have been an original cause which was uncaused itself. The existence of the universe is a strong argument in itself as nothing can come from nothing; therefore there must be something that brought it all into existence.

  2. Examine what is meant by natural law with reference to morality and analyse and ...

    Potentiality refers to the possibilities of change within an existing thing; for example, a caterpillar had potentiality to become a butterfly. Actuality is existence, or the way something actually is. For Aquinas, the more something's potentialities are realised, the better it is.

  1. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism

    Furthermore, it means that present circumstances can be judged without reference to past precedence. In this way the theory is greatly similar to 'situation ethics' that allows certain actions to be taken which suit the particular situation. Nevertheless, the principle of utility has come under fire from a number of different sources.

  2. Capital Punishment

    Jesus rejects the Old Testament morality because he teaches that we should forgive people of their sins. Although Jesus did teach us forgiveness and tell us to 'turn' the other cheek he did not refer to any form of Capital Punishment and kept silence upon the act but rather God's initiative in graciousness towards the most sinful not primarily murder.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work