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

The strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

(i) What are the main advantages of utilitarianism? (21 marks) (ii) Identify the main problems of utilitarianism. To what extent do these make utilitarianism unacceptable? (9) Utilitarianism was developed by Jeremy Bentham and is a modern form of the hedonistic ethical theory which teaches that the end of human conduct is happiness, and that consequently the discrimination norm which distinguishes conduct into right and wrong pleasure and pain. The aforementioned Bentham lived in era of great social and scientific change and unrest. He therefore, because of his social surroundings developed a theory that stated that right actions are those who produce the most pleasure for everyone affected and wrong actions consequently are those who do not. He coined the phrase "the greatest good for the greatest number" which summarises his aim which was to iron out the deep inequalities of his time. Bentham being a hedonist believed that all humans naturally pursued pleasure and conversely avoids pain. ...read more.

Middle

Rule utilitarianism, which was developed by Mill, highlights the centrality of rules in morality and establishes the best overall rule by determining the course of action which results to happiness. Rule states that you must obey the rule even if it doesn't lead to the greatest pleasure. The rule should always take president over any given situation. A key distinction between Bentham's and Mills theories lie differences. Act utilitarianism was one of Bentham's key ideas. Bentham approached this idea to be that he treated each individual separately, without any rules to guide the individual. Mill on the other hand proposed that one should make rules based upon the consequences of that action. E.g. stealing tends to cause pain, so we should have a rule against stealing. So, despite supporting the same principle idea, we can see that Mill and Bentham arrived at two very different approaches to morality, with Mill avoiding some of the fundamental and debateable idea put forward by Bentham. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition, with negative utilitarianism; the good could possibly mean people being happy and the bad could mean people being un-happy, or the good is people getting what they want in life and the bad is people not getting what they want out of life. Although most utilitarian's agree that whatever the good and bad are, we ought to bring about as much of the former and as little of the latter as possible. E.g. suppose that I have a choice to make: I can either make the happiest man in the world even happier than he already is, or I can alleviate some of the suffering of the unhappiest man in the world. This would mean that if I were to alleviate some of the suffering from the unhappiest man, the happiest man would still be happy and not affected from the choice but yet the unhappiest man becomes happier than he already was. Therefore, I should always choose to alleviate suffering rather than promoting happiness. ?? ?? ?? ?? Kerrie Freeman ...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 Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay


2/5

The student makes lots of accurate and good points in this essay and describes utilitarianism for the most part correctly (with the exception of the second question where a number of mistakes are made). Unfortunately the student does not answer either of the questions that have been set. In consequence almost everything that has been written is irrelevant.

Marked by teacher David Moss 31/03/2012

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 Philosophy essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Situation ethics

    3 star(s)

    Fourth, "only ends justify the means, nothing else." Fletchers feelings about love is Agape love, meaning unconditional and nothing is required in return. Fifth, "love wills the neighbor's good, whether we like him or not." this means to use things as a means to an end, not as an end itself.

  2. Explain the difference between Act and rule utilitarianism

    of the hedonic calculus which has 7 criteria's which are used as a guide to weigh up the pleasure of pains in a situation, this is so that they know how to act regarding a situation and know how much pleasure would be produced, therefore they would hope the consequence

  1. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the teleological, deontological and hybrid systems of ethics ...

    system to the situation because any action is good as long as it is loving, thus taking away the complexities of the decision and benefiting the majority in the end, as clearly the most loving decision would be to make sure the majoirty of people are benefitted.

  2. Explain Plato's and Aristotle's ideas of form, body, knowledge and soul.

    Plato believes that the body is the physical component of each person. The body is the part that presents an appearance for others to see and hear.

  1. Compare and Contrast the Philisophical Contributions of Nietzsche and Mill to our understanding of ...

    This, Mill refers to as "the tyranny of the majority" which was held in "dread" (and commonly still is.) At this point, Mill is suggesting that majority rule itself could become a tyranny and that the suppression of minorities by the majority should be taken as a serious threat to a fair and just society.

  2. Plato's Theory of Forms.

    On finding out what were pretences, and what were the real objects? All these questions Plato answered in his Theory of Forms, which is at the heart of his philosophy. He believed that, as well as the material world we live in and of which we experience; there is another world, an eternal world of concepts, or Forms.

  1. Explain and evaluate the role of conscience in moral decision-making

    Newman also believed that the more relativist (atheist) a person is the less of a conscience they will have as they do not follow a God (an absolute unchanging moral authority).

  2. Evaluate the claim that the soul is distinct from the body:

    Richard Dawkins is also a famous figure that discredits Plato, he too is a monist and argues that we are just a product of our genes. Our bodies enable our genes to survive and be passed on. He argues that the concept of the soul is mythological, in the same way as God of the gaps argument.

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