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Explain how Benthams version of Utilitarianism may be used to decide the right cause of action and the strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism

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Explain Bentham's version of Utilitarianism may be used to decide the right cause of action. By Beatrice Meecham Utilitarianism is the ethical theory that shows the reasons for a person choosing to carry out an action - it justifies an action being for the greater good. Utilitarianism is a teleological theory which means it looks at the consequences or result of an action - to decide whether it is subsequently right or wrong this also makes it a consequentialist theory. The theory of Utilitarianism began with Jeremy Bentham. Bentham's theory of Utilitarianism is where actions are judged based upon the pleasure gained in the result. Jeremy Bentham was the man who originally thought of and came up with the idea of Utilitarianism, he believed in 'the greatest good for the greatest number'. There are two types of Utilitarianism; Bentham's theory is Act Utilitarianism. Act Utilitarianism is about creating the greatest amount of pleasure in a particular situation through a particular action. Bentham believed and used research to conclude that people would naturally seek pleasure and avoid pain. 'Nature had placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do as well as to determine what we shall do.' ...read more.


When faced in a dilemma, Bentham believed that you could chose the 'good' option - the option which would do the most amount of good and the least amount of pain. For example, if you are in a plane crash and you could only save one person; your wife, your child or a doctor who has the ability to save many. Bentham believes in this situation you must use 'the hedonic calculus' to form a solution to your problem. The doctor could make thousands of lives better and create much more pleasure than if you save the wife or child, however this tough decision would leave you without pleasure. Following Bentham's utilitarianism you must save the doctor. When a decision has to be made over a moral situation, the hedonic calculus is used. In using the hedonic calculus the individuals involved should be considered by applying the seven factors to them in relation to the options for the choice of action you have. 'Utilitarianism has no serious weakness' Discuss It is true that Utilitarianism does have many strengths however it does have weaknesses too. Bentham, Mill, Hare and Singer's theories each have their own faults. Utilitarianism is very straight forward and easy to understand. It is very natural for a person to consider the outcome and how much pleasure they will gain before going through with an action. ...read more.


to his favourite park he used to visit but on the way to handing over the money you see an advert that says it needs �30,000 to save 10,000 people. Out of duty you must give the money to the park however if you are following Utilitarianism your belief is that the money must going into creating the most good/ happiness which would be saving those 10,000 people. W.D Ross believed it was important for you to follow and carry out your duty. Bentham's Act utilitarianism although was flexible and relied on the consequences it had no defence for minorities for example; one slave being treated badly but creating happiness for a whole family would be thought of as right. Also it is very impractical having to calculate using the 'hedonic calculus' every decision we make. There is also a difficulty defining what pleasure is for example; a paedophile's pleasure is very different to another person's. Mill's Rule utilitarianism is very practical and sets about certain rules for society that must be maintained which can help societies to operate. However there are weaknesses to rule utilitarianism too again there is no defence for minorities or any help at what defines happiness but also this time if you are following rules you could end up obeying them even when more happiness can be created by disobeying them. ...read more.

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