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Explain how moral decisions should be made using the Hedonic Calculus.

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Introduction

´╗┐Sophie Dunhill ?Explain how moral decisions should be made using the Hedonic Calculus?. The Hedonic Calculus is a scientific formula created to measure pleasure; it is used to weigh up the amount of pain and pleasure that is generated by different moral actions to find the best option. The Hedonic Calculus results in either a majority of pleasure or a majority of pain therefore we cannot distinguish between what is a higher pleasure and what is a lower pleasure, or give them an order of importance ? it is said to be worth the same amount when using the Hedonic Calculus. John Stuart Mill believed pleasure should be measured qualitatively, where the focus is upon value and nature, and so in his theory of utilitarianism he did distinguish between higher and lower pleasures. A moral decision cannot be made using the Hedonic Calculus when this cannot be done as I think people could find that they are making the wrong decision or a decision that, when not using the calculus, they would not agree with as some people may decide differently based on how high they believe the pleasure is. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore a decision can only be moral when it is bringing pleasure or happiness to the greatest amount of people and the Hedonic Calculus enables this. The seven steps of the Hedonic Calculus include duration, intensity, certainty or uncertainty, remoteness, fecundity, purity, and lastly extent. In the case of bullying for example, the Hedonic Calculus would measure how intense it is and how long it is possible for it to last etc which would then help a person to come to the decision of either helping the victim by talking to the bully or telling their parents or a teacher. Bentham believed that any action which increases pleasure is right, and one that increases pain is wrong, so consequently, by using the Hedonic Calculus to make moral decisions we can guarantee that the decision made is always going to increase pleasure as it has been calculated correctly through the Hedonic Calculus. I think that the Hedonic Calculus can help individuals to choose which is the right and which is the wrong thing to do as it ultimately calculates how pleasurable the consequence of an action is by measuring the above seven aspects. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because of this, I do not think the Hedonic Calculus can be used effectively in everyday life to determine which option is best, when it is solely based on the amount of pleasure or pain a situation or choice will result in. Overall, I believe that the Hedonic Calculus is very impractical and time consuming as time is needed to calculate the figures which will then help you to make a decision. For example, you need to make the decision as to whether you should save a mother and her baby from being hit by a bus on a zebra crossing or a man in his twenties on a bike cycling the opposite way. They are both only seconds away. To work out which one to save using the Hedonic Calculus would take much longer than a few seconds therefore this is why I believe it is a very impractical way of calculating pain and pleasure. ( I know you said the first paragraph is not relevant, but I could not think of anything else to put in its place so I kept it in for the word count ï ) ...read more.

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