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Explain the main weaknesses of Benthams version of Utilitarianism. Does Mills version of Utilitarianism avoid the problems associated with Benthams?

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Introduction

Explain the main weaknesses of Bentham's version of Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham never classed himself as, or was classed by others in his time as an Act Utilitarian. This is merely a label that has been assigned to him in future years, to solidify and categorise his ethics in somewhere by which an onlooker can begin to understand them. However, Act Utilitarianism ethics throw up many weaknesses, many of which can be deeply scrutinized and developed. One of the main weaknesses of Bentham's version of Utilitarianism is that there is the potential to justify any act. This is because Bentham's version is based, yes on the consequences of an action, but on the pleasure gained from an action. For example, if seven men were walking down an alley and stabbed a girl to death, then according to Bentham's device 'The Hedonic Calculus' the amount of the men's pleasure would completely outweigh the amount of the woman's pain, and would therefore make the action of killing the women morally right. ...read more.

Middle

Not only is this a huge flaw as I have previously stated, but to measure up consequences is another big weakness. Surely consequence is not measurable because we do not know when a consequence will end? For example, a man falls over in the street, but a boy comes over to help him up. To most, this seems like a morally right thing to do. However, the man may then stand up, walk on and then murder someone. This is seen as another major loophole in Bentham's thinking. When do consequences of our actions really come to an end? How can one judge amounts of pleasure, and weigh it up side by side with measures of pain? These are but a few questions that arise after scrutinising Bentham's reasoning, and exploiting his weaknesses. Mill's version of Utilitarianism avoids the problems associated with Bentham's. Discuss. ...read more.

Conclusion

amount of happiness is so low, that the small amount of happiness that the men are attaining from the action does not add up enough to be seen as acceptable in comparison to the pain and suffering the woman is experiencing. This would make the action morally wrong. Saying this however means in no way that Mill's version of Utilitarianism is bulletproof, there are still weaknesses in it. One being that it is still difficult to predict the consequences of an action, and therefore difficult to make an ethical decision about the action, but the other being that it is extremely difficult for anyone to define what actually constitutes as happiness. How can one measure up and compare happiness with pain, and vice versa? It seem Mill's version of Utilitarianism does not avoid Bentham's weaknesses, as it poses that we as humans, we humans that do not always make the right decisions, have to picture in our heads the measure of happiness to pain. ...read more.

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